This was supposed to be the time that the Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball team caught Christian Brothers Academy.
After years of near-misses, the Red Rams had everything clicking - a seven-game win streak, first place in the OHSL Freedom division and a spot in the state Class A top 10. It had even won at Cortland Jan. 8, something the Brothers could not do earlier that week.Not only that, but J-D would be at home Thursday night.
And none of that mattered.
Once again, CBA got the better of J-D, battling its way to a 41-37 victory that wasn't sealed up until the final seconds.
Down by six, 40-34, the Rams cut the margin in half on Alyssa Gratien's 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, then forced a turnover, giving itself a chance to inch closer, or even tie it.
With CBA keeping Gratien occupied, Theresa Hernandez flashed open for a 3-point shot that would pull J-D even, but it rolled off the rim.
Fouled with 24.8 seconds left, CBA's Victoria Johnson hit one free throw, and J-D missed a pair of 3-pointers as the clock ran out.
The exciting, frantic nature of the finish was a far cry from the shaky way in which both teams muddled through a 15-15 first half.
Combine two strong defensive teams with vast knowledge of each other, a fierce rivalry and the nerves of appearing on television (Time Warner Cable broadcast the game live), and it produced a shaky half full of turnovers and rushed perimeter shots that, for the most part, flew well off line.
Gradually, CBA used its size advantage to seize control of the boards in the third quarter, doubling its offensive output and building a 30-23 lead.
Leanne Ockenden, the focus of J-D's defensive attention, had just 10 points, but her teammates stepped up as Victoria Johnson earned 11 points, Kelsey Johnson seven points and Michelle Damico six points.
J-D would try to make its way back in the fourth quarter, led by Gratien, whose 17 points accounted for nearly half of the Rams' output and included four 3-pointers, all in the second half.
Twice, J-D got within a basket, at 31-29 and 35-32. Both times, CBA would respond with four consecutive points, and it would answer again in the closing seconds.
Both the Red Rams (9-2) and Brothers (8-1) will have games next week against East Syracuse-Minoa, who is on its own roll, having won at Cortland 69-68 on Tuesday night.