Mar 30, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Only at the very end did the burden of trying to pull off back-to-back runs through all phases of the state championship tournament did the burden become too heavy.
Jamesville-DeWitt’s boys basketball team, already the proud owners of two straight state Class A titles, tried to repeat that feat at last weekend’s Federation championships, also held at Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Red Rams got half the job done, fighting past Iona Prep 67-55 on Friday night, but never got going in Saturday night’s championship game, taking a 68-51 loss to Long Island Lutheran in a rematch of the 2008 Federation final.
So much work had gone into all of J-D’s game in Glens Falls over the past two weekends. Just getting to that Federation final was enough of a task, which may have explained the struggles against the Crusaders.
In all, the Rams had played three tough games in the span of a week, starting March 14 with the grinding 40-32 win over Batavia in the state Class A semifinal. It continued a day later with the epic 76-75 overtime win over Peekskill that secured the fourth public-school state title in J-D’s history.
And when J-D returned to Glens Falls for last Friday night’s Federation semifinal, the battles continued, as the Rams needed a strong second half and one more star turn from Brandon Triche to beat Iona Prep.
Much of the first half involved the Rams playing from behind, as it trailed by as much as seven, 10-3 in the early going. Even as it was catching up, J-D watched two of its stars, Alshwan Hymes and DaJuan Coleman, go to the bench with three fouls.
Still, Triche put together 14 points as J-D edged into a 31-29 halftime lead. And after Iona Prep started the second half on a 7-0 run, the Rams turned it around with a 13-2 spurt to close the third quarter and move ahead for good.
The Gaels hung out for a while in the fourth quarter, but Lamar Kearse earned four straight points to stretch the margin to 60-50, and J-D was clear.
Triche finished with 25 points, plus five rebounds and five assists. Hymes, doing most of his damage in the second half, still managed a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Coleman grabbed 11 rebounds to go with his six points. Steve Thompson added eight points.
In stark contrast to J-D’s battle, Long Island Lutheran cruised past Curtis (Staten Island), the New York City champions, 67-42, and got to save some energy for the finals. That would prove important.
Right from the tip-off, the Rams found itself in catch-up mode against the Crusaders, who jumped out to a 13-4 edge with a series of 3-pointers setting the tone.
Again, J-D got handcuffed with early fouls. The frustration built up for much of the half until, trailing 31-23, J-D saw Zach Firestone get hit with a technical foul, and head coach Bob McKenney get whistled for a T, too.
Instead of firing the Rams up, this only got the Crusaders going, as it went on an 11-0 run that stretched into the third quarter and made it 42-23. Somehow, J-D got 11 unanswered points of its own to cut it to 42-34, but Long Island Lutheran would pull away late.
Most of all, Tobias Harris, the Crusadrs’ 6-8 forward, hurt the Red Rams, getting 27 points, 12 of them from free throws as he outplayed Coleman, who still had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Hymes led J-D with 17 points, while Kearse got nine points.
Triche, in the last game of a storied high school career, had just eight points, pushing his career total to 1,929. But the Syracuse University-bound senior still had a great week as he was named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year.