SYRACUSE As far as early-season high school boys basketball games in Central New York went, none carried as much promise as Jamesville-DeWitt's trip to Henninger in Thursday night's Peppino's Invitational opener - and somehow, the game managed to exceed those high expectations.
A physical battle through four quarters spilled into overtime thanks to a wild shot at the regulation buzzer, but the four-time defending state Class A champion Red Rams shook this off and still beat the reigning Section III Class AA champion Black Knights 75-70.
On a night full of tense action and signature plays, none were bigger than Quashawn Gainey's 3-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter, which tied the game 63-63.
Prior to that, Henninger's valiant effort appeared to be in vain. With 22 seconds left, Tyler Cavanaugh's free throws made it 63-60, and the Black Knights ran off most of the remaining clock before its head coach, Erik Saroney, signaled for a time-out with two seconds left.
Taking the ball inbounds, Gainey, a 5-10 senior guard, let fly with a 25-foot shot that appeared too strong. But it crashed off the backboard, then the front rim, went to the back of the rim and rattled through the net as the buzzer sounded, sending Henninger fans in the packed gymnasium into a frenzy.
However, said J-D head coach Bob McKenney, his players were not too rattled by Gainey's stunning shot, knowing that more basketball lay ahead.
"I told them to take a deep breath," he said. "We were fine. It was now a four-minute game."
Better yet for the Rams, it was a contest where, ultimately, three Henninger starters - Delee, Chisholm and Marquies Young - would foul out, giving J-D more space to operate, especially in the OT period.
And to no one's surprise, J-D went back inside to its Syracuse University-bound senior, Dajuan Coleman, who had received a bounty of scoring chances all night. He had five of his 32 points in the OT, partially atoning for going 10 for 21 from the foul line.