Dec 14, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In a short amount of time, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team has found, in Cortland, someone willing to stand up for them for supremacy in both the OHSL Freedom division and Section III Class A ranks.
The Red Rams got tested again by the Purple Tigers Tuesday night, trailing by seven at halftime before turning up its defense – and turning to Dajuan Coleman – to rally for a 59-51 victory.
Events in the 2010-11 season intensified this rivalry, as J-D lost at Cortland in the regular season, only to get payback against the Purple Tigers in the sectional finals on the way to a fourth consecutive state championship.
Now they were together again, Cortland having returned four starters from last winter – J.P. Reagan, Brandon Babcock, Qwuhail Barlow and Jon Prior.
Also, it didn’t hurt the Purple Tigers that J-D was playing its fourth tough game in six days, counting the overtime win at Henninger on Dec. 8 and its split of two games (a loss to DeMatha, a win over St. John the Baptist) in the Washington, D.C. area over the weekend.
Perhaps that fatigue showed in the first half. Despite taking a 20-15 lead and getting 10 early points from Tyler Cavanaugh, the Rams, facing Cortland’s patented 2-3 zone, were settling for jump shots and rarely getting the ball inside to Coleman, who sometimes had three or four defenders on him.
“We came out flat,” said Cavanaugh.
Coleman had just two points in the half, and the Purple Tigers caught fire just before the break, going on a 15-3 run fueled by four 3-pointers – two from Reagan, one each from Babcock and Barlow. By the early part of the third quarter, Cortland had a 35-26 lead.
J-D head coach Bob McKenney, seeing that his own team’s zone was not working, went to man-to-man defense in the third quarter. What’s more, any time the Rams made a basket, it applied full-court pressure, forcing Cortland to use up the shot clock just getting into position.
It worked, as the Purple Tigers did not make a single 3-pointer in the last two periods after getting six in the first half.
“The press helped us get the momentum going,” said McKenney. “Defensively, we had very few breakdowns in the second half.”
At the same time, J-D moved the ball around on the offensive side, too, giving Coleman room in the paint – and he took full advantage with 15 second-half points, everything from converted free throws to a pair of thunderous dunks in the final minutes.
“I had to take over,” said Coleman.
But Coleman didn’t have to work alone. Cavanaugh would finish with 16 points, while Casey Williams connected on a pair of 3-pointers off the bench and earning eight points overall. Cavanaugh and Pete Drescher sank five of six free throws in the final 14.1 seconds to keep Cortland from coming back.
In defeat, Babcock led a well-balanced Purple Tigers attack with 13 points. Reagan, never a big factor after getting into foul trouble early in the second half, had 12 points, as did Barlow, while Prior added nine points.
Though the Purple Tigers lost, it could look forward to the fact that J-D has to visit Cortland on Jan. 31, a rematch already full of high anticipation, given how close this first game was.