At least according to head coach Bob McKenney, when the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team won state Class A championships in 2004 and 2008, it did so as ambitious underdogs.
That's certainly not the case now.
Following routs of MaloneFranklin and Scotia-Glenville in last weekend's regional round at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, the Red Rams are back in the state final four at Glens Falls Civic Center, and anything less than another state title would be a disappointment.
Of the two games at CNS, the regional final against Section II champion Scotia-Glenville was supposed to provide the bigger challenge, since the Tartans had its own potent offense and a 6-10 presence in the paint with Jim Janson, who is going to LeMoyne College.
But once Alshwan Hymes started hitting 3-pointers and Janson got into foul trouble, yet another rout was in the making as the Red Rams blasted Scotia 90-61 to secure its latest trip to Glens Falls.
Much of the outside attention on J-D focuses on Brandon Triche. In turn, Hymes has gone virtually unnoticed by colleges, something McKenney said has motivated the senior guard to prove himself.
That wasn't too difficult against Scotia. The Tartans laid back in a zone defense, determined to (1) bottle up freshman center DaJuan Coleman and (2) keep Triche from his patented drives to the basket.
The only problem was that it left Hymes open, and late in the first quarter, he started draining those long, high-arching 3-pointers, piling up six of them by halftime.
"He got into that shooter's rhythm," McKenney said. "He has confidence and is not afraid to take big shots."
Despite this barrage, J-D only led 33-30 late in the second quarter, Hymes getting matched by Scotia's Joe Ferrari, who his six 3-pointers of his own on his way to 25 points for the afternoon.