A familiar face from the past made sure that the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team did not follow up its fourth consecutive state Class A championship with a Federation title.
Playing Friday night in the Federation semifinals at Albany's Times Union Center, the Red Rams led through the game's middle stages against independent schools champion Long Island Lutheran, but could not withstand the Crusaders' late push and took a 75-71 defeat.
These same two teams had met in the 2009 Federation final at Glens Falls Civic Center. Long Island Lutheran won there, too, denying J-D back-to-back Federation championships to go with its 2008 clean sweep.
Now, the Rams, who had also lost the 2010 Federation final to Nichols (Buffalo), were looking for another state tournament sweep as the Federation event moved to Albany for the first time after lagging attendance in recent years at Glens Falls.
Yet it was LIL making the first push, working its way to a 17-12 first-quarter lead. It was the first time in eight post-season games in 2011 that the Rams had fallen behind.
But it didn't last long. Again marking his territory in the paint, 6-10 junior center DaJuan Coleman took over in the second period, dominating on both ends as J-D outscored the Crusaders 19-6 in that frame to seize a 31-23 lead by the break. Not only did the Rams appear to have control, but LIL's top forward, Jordan Allen, was saddled with three fouls.
The third quarter proved pivotal in that J-D, despite setting a quick pace and seeing Coleman and Tyler Cavanaugh continue to accumulate inside points, watched the Crusaders chip away, led by Shaun Lawton and Achraf Yacabou's outside shooting.
Going into the final period, the Rams only led 50-48 - and just like with Nichols a year ago, the lead vanished early in the fourth quarter as the Crusaders put together a 13-1 spurt. Now down 61-51, J-D made a spirited late comeback, but fell just short.
In defeat, Coleman managed 29 points, while Cavanaugh put in 18 points. LIL did an effective job on Demetrius Mitchell, though, holding him to eight points, the same total as Pete Drescher, as freshman Jafar Kinsey got seven points. For the Crusaders, Lawton led with 24 points and Yacabou contributed 19 points.
J-D, who finished this winter at 23-3, will seek an unprecedented fifth consecutive public state championship next winter with Coleman, one of the nation's most sought-after recruits, and Cavanaugh expected to lead the way.