For the last couple of seasons, Jamesville-DeWitt’s boys basketball team was the single obstacle that prevented Cortland from rising to the top of the Section III Class A ranks.
But when the Red Rams and Purple Tigers got together again Friday night, the feeling was different, J-D still in search of its top form while Cortland, even with five new starters, had a real chance to knock off the Rams on its home floor.
Almost on cue, the Purple Tigers rose to the moment, taking the lead late in the first half and hanging on down the stretch to beat the Rams 57-53.
With the loss, J-D fell to 2-3, again missing the vast array of skills that injured starter Jeff Edwards would have provided, from timely baskets to strong defense.
Neither side was sharp in the first quarter, but Cortland dominated the rest of the half. The patient, disciplined Purple Tigers approach led to open outside shots that found the net amid a 20-11 flurry that put the Rams behind, 30-23, at the break.
The entire second half evolved into a chase. Every time J-D would pull close, Cortland would reply, and down the stretch the Rams’ comeback attempts fell just short.
Jafar Kinsey led J-D with 21 points, but had less support as Dom DeRegis got 10 points and Jacob Eich earned seven points. Cortland’s trio of Zach Whelan, Isaiah Prior and Josh Gutchess hit seven 3-pointers between them, four from Whelan as he matched Kinsey’s total of 21 points. Prior got 13 points and Gutchess contributed 12 points.
Just before Cortland, the boys Rams visited Homer last Tuesday night and overcame a poor start with lights-out defense in the middle of a 53-29 victory over the Trojans.
Fired up to try and take J-D down, Homer actually worked its way to a 13-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. At that point, though, the Rams stopped messing around, and it proceeded to blank the Trojans in a 16-0 second-quarter effort.
From there, the Trojans never recovered, and J-D pulled away behind Kinsey’s game-best 16 points. Dom DeRegis, with 12 points, also broke into double figures, while Jacob Eich managed six points. Homer’s Casey Cleary led his side with 11 points.
J-D faces yet another big test next Saturday when it meets its neighbors from Fayetteville-Manlius at home for a 12:30 tip-off.