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.