Feb 28, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
More with relief than with general giddiness, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team made it out of the Section III Class A semifinal round.
The girls Red Rams could only wish for relief, though.
In back-to-back games played Saturday at Chittenango High School, the J-D boys and girls made their respective efforts to get into this weekend’s title games at Utica Memorial Auditorium, but only one would get there.
That would be the boys Red Rams, now 20-0 as the state’s top-ranked team got a brief scare from no. 4 seed Utica-Notre Dame, but still beat the Jugglers 69-52 to advance to Sunday’s final at 5:30 against Nottingham at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
A few hours earlier, J-D’s girls, as a no. 3 seed, saw its dream of a first title since 1998 wiped out by no. 2 seed Cortland, who beat the Red Rams 52-35.
Back in 2009, J-D’s boys played Utica-Notre Dame for the sectional title and won, 86-60, on its way to a second consecutive state championship. Now, as then, the plan for the Rams was the same — contain the Jugglers’ all-time leading scorer, Pat Moore, who is going to Colgate next year.
As in so many other cases, J-D flew out of the gate, using its speed, size and shooting ability to grab a 22-10 lead. Even as it cooled off in the second period, the margin changed little, and the Rams took a 34-20 edge to the break.
But the rout never materialized. UND dug in and, in the third quarter, began to give J-D’s defense all kinds of problems. Moore, who finished with 24 points, and Mike Hill (14 points) led the charge, and by the time they reached the final period, J-D’s margin was just six, 46-40.
A big part of the Rams’ concern was the struggles that Lamar Kearse was having. All Kearse could manage was 10 points on this night, so even though DaJuan Coleman was again owning the paint (20 points, 21 rebounds) with help from Tyler Cavanaugh (10 points), someone had to pick up the backcourt slack.
Jailaan Kinsey did the honors. Only a starter late in the season, Kinsey would hit several big shots in the fourth quarter, allowing the Rams to pull away. Kinsey,in fact, would match Moore with 24 points, half of it coming from four successful 3-pointers.
This victory, nervous as it might have been, helped J-D fans feel better after what had happened to the girls against Cortland.
Since the Red Rams and Purple Tigers had split two regular-season games (each winning on the road), the consensus was this third and most important encounter would be a close one.
That never took place. Though Cortland did not equal the first-quarter blitz that doomed the Rams on Feb. 11, it still used steady, suffocating defense to gradually take charge. J-D never had more than 10 points in any single period.
Cortland climbed its way to a 28-18 halftime lead, and maintained that margin by never giving the Rams open looks. Alyssa Gratien, for example, managed just one field goal and finished with five points, far below her average. Only Jessica Kramer, with 13 points, broke into double figures. The mere fact that she was on the court was remarkable, given that she had spent much of the season battling mononucleosis — this on top of the fact that Gratien needed to go the hospital to remove kidney stones just before the playoffs started.
Meanwhile, the Purple Tigers steadily added to its margin in the second half as Courtney Tennant led with 16 points and Maggie Brown added 13 points. Maggie Reagan and Nacirema Mann each had nine points.
As the J-D girls pondered the end to a 15-5 season and will need to replace all five of its starters (Kramer, Gratien, Theresa Hernandez, Liz Beville and Nicole Ortega), the boys Red Rams prepare for its title showdown against Nottingham.
A fierce rival of decades past, the Bulldogs played in the CNY Counties League this season and went 11-7, then moved down to Class A for the playoffs and, in order, beat Indian River, Whitesboro and Bishop Ludden to reach this title game. Led by Jawan Simmons and Roosevelt Bullock, the Bulldogs are big, strong and physical, and its defense has been first-rate throughout the post-season.