DeWitt 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.