Jan 15, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Though it may sound strange, Jamesville-DeWitt and Christian Brothers Academy both got what it wanted Friday night at a jam-packed Buddy Wleklinski Court.
The Brothers managed to dictate the game’s pace, exactly what it had to do if it wanted to knock off the two-time defending state Class A champions – just as it did 11 months ago.
But the Red Rams earned the most important prize – the victory, a hard-fought 46-41 decision that, at least for senior guard Lamar Kearse, had a particularly high value.
“It’s almost as good as winning a state championship,” Kearse said. “We heard all week about how CBA beat us a year ago. It made us want it more.”
Kearse was referring, of course, to J-D’s 67-66 defeat to the Brothers on this same court on Feb. 13, 2009. Unlike many other local foes, CBA has shown a tendency to match the Rams’ intensity in all their head-to-head collisions through the years.
This would be no different – and J-D needed the test, having sailed through its first seven games, all victories, without any real drama while averaging 88 points per game, best in Section III.
“We did what we had to do to win in (CBA’s) gym,” head coach Bob McKenney said. “In big rivalry games, the game’s aren’t pretty, but this will help us get better.”
Indeed, it was exactly what CBA envisioned, in that the Rams often put up 46 points before halftime against most opponents, and it would need all 32 minutes to get to that point here.
Still, the Rams never trailed, and that was a tribute to its own defense, which forced a series of early turnovers. Early in the second quarter, J-D had built an 18-8 lead.
But CBA stayed patient, keeping two starters, Jameel Balenton and Pat Wiese, on the court despite both of them getting two early fouls.
That gamble paid off, as Balenton hit on seven points during a 13-4 run to close the half as J-D’s top prospect, sophomore DaJuan Coleman, struggled, getting just one field goal and missing a wide-open dunk.
In many ways, the second half mirrored the first. Again, J-D fought its way to a comfortable lead, as much as nine points on three occasions, pushed there by Kearse, who would finish with 15 points. Kearse said that, by not settling for jump shots, he was more aggressive, leading to high-percentage baskets.
Again, CBA crawled back, helped in no small part by the fact that the Rams missed seven of eight free throws in the final 5:21.
Balenton, who led both sides with 16 points, hit a basket with 23 seconds left, cutting it to 44-41, but Kearse used a pair of free throws to put it away.
“We’re not surprised at anything he does,” McKenney said. “He’s a legitimate Division I player, but people keep doubting him. He’s a great leader for this team.”
Aside from Kearse, Demetrius Mitchell stood out, earning 11 points, while Zach Firestone got seven points. For CBA, Yosh Karbowniczak came off the bench to earn nine points.
J-D had no time to relax after this win, for it went straight to SUNY-Utica Tech this weekend to play in the prestigious Juggler Classic.