For all that was on the line Friday night when Jamesville-DeWitt and Christian Brothers Academy squared off, it still came down to a single player imposing his will on the whole affair.
That player, Brandon Triche, spared the Red Rams from yet another defeat the Brothers' expense, earning his team's final seven points to push J-D to a 61-57 victory, its 30th in a row.
An overflow crowd in J-D's gymnasium took hold of the spectacle, filling the bleachers and ringing the track that overlooks the court long before tip-off. They all remembered that it was CBA who had last beaten the Red Rams 67-63 on this same floor back in December 2007.
More importantly, J-D, the defending state Class A champions, remembered that game, and carried no small amount of motivation into the contest, determined to establish its own fast tempo and not let the Brothers slow things down.
Thanks to Alshwan Hymes, the Red Rams did get the start it wanted. All by himself, Hymes outscored CBA in the first quarter, 12 points to the Brothers' 10, and Triche tacked on eight points of his own as J-D roared to a 22-10 lead.
Yet as the second quarter wore on, the Brothers began to slow things down, whittling the margin to six before a 7-0 push late in the half allowed the Rams to take a 33-21 advantage to the break.
Other than Triche and Hymes, J-D was light on the offensive side. Still, it played strong defense to cover up those mistakes, and by the late stages of the third quarter, the Rams had a 47-29 lead, seemingly headed toward another lopsided win.
CBA made sure that didn't happen, though.
Spurred on by Greg Thomson, who had 10 points off the bench, the Brothers overcame foul trouble and used a 13-2 run to pull within single digits. The margin then shifted, whittling down to five, 54-49, despite a long Hymes 3-pointer.