Ever since the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team lost to Cortland on Jan. 28, it has waited for a second chance - and now it has arrived.
In Saturday's Section III Class A championship game at 2:45 at Utica Memorial Auditorium, the no. 2 seed Red Rams (17-3) meet the no. 1 seed Purple Tigers (19-1), this after J-D beat Whitesboro 81-45 in Wednesday night's semifinal at Chittenango and Cortland got past Oneida 48-39 in the other semifinal.
Against Whitesboro, J-D took a while to fully assert itself. The Rams were not sharp at any point in the first quarter on the offensive side, but got away with it because the defense applied constant pressure and held Whitesboro to seven points. As the pace quickened, so did J-D as its margin grew to 31-20 by halftime.
Through a wild third quarter, the Warriors had plenty of production, but still could not keep the Rams from going further ahead, and finally broke down as J-D closed with a 26-6 spurt.
DaJuan Coleman backed up his 18 points (which put him past the 1,300 mark for his career) with 12 rebounds. Tyler Cavanaugh also had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds as Demitrius Mitchell also got 12 points and Pete Drescher contributed 11 points. Brandon Franklin came off the bench to produce eight points as Ryan Watson led Whitesboro with 12 points.
All this leads to the rematch with Cortland. That first meeting went 55-51 in the Purple Tigers' favor as it controlled the tempo and leaned on hot 3-point shooting (10 in all) to pull through. It also took full advantage of the Rams not having Mitchell back from the foot injury he suffered in mid-December.
Ever since Mitchell's return, though, J-D has won six in a row, with the smallest margin of victory 20 points (71-51 over CBA). And the general feeling is that Cortland has to again keep the Rams from picking up the pace if it wants to claim its first-ever sectional championship - and keep J-D from a fourth straight title.