Feb 24, 2012 Kris Russell Uncategorized
Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Cavanaugh played like the NCAA Division I recruits they are last night, powering top seed Jamesville-Dewitt past upset-minded New Hartford, 62-44, in Thursday night’s Section III Class A boys basketball semifinal at Chittenango High School.
The Syracuse University-bound Coleman poured in 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Future Wake Forest player Cavanaugh tallied 22 points and pulled down a game high 16 boards.
“They wear you down,” J-D coach Bob McKenney said. “They’re both big. They’re both strong. And they’re both skilled. That creates incredible matchup difficulties.”
In essence, Coleman and Cavanaugh carried J-D on this night. Aside from them, the Rams had just four total field goals – two by Jafar Kinsey, one each from Pete Drescher and Rasheed Baker.
Coleman, Cavanaugh and rest of the Red Rams (18-2) will get a chance to showcase their skills on the big stage next. J-D takes on no. 3 seed Cortland (18-2) in the March 4 Class A title game at the Carrier Dome, a rematch of the 2011 final won by J-D on its way to a fourth consecutive state championship.
The final score against New Hartford might have some thinking it was a blowout. The no. 5 seed Spartans (15-5) would take issue with that.
Behind speedy guards and some hot outside shooting, the Spartans led 12-9 after one quarter. The advantage ballooned to 18-9 early in the second stanza when back-to-back three pointers by Derek German, and Jared Henderson sent the large New Hartford student section into frenzy.
“When you’ve got quicks and your big guys can shoot it, it really creates matchup difficulties, particularly for a big team like ours,” McKenney said. “(New Hartford) made shots in the first half and they (slowed it) down. We went to our press and I thought that changed the tempo of the game a little bit.”
The Red Rams enjoyed the quicker pace right away, especially Coleman. The senior scored six successive points from close range in a 10-3 J-D run that saw the Red Rams take their first lead (24-23) with just one minute left in the half.
“There’s nothing you can do with Coleman,” Spartans coach John Randall said. “He’s that strong. He’s that much of a better talent than a lot of players in this area. Even if you foul him he’s much stronger than a lot of guys that he just muscles through and he can put it back in. We did all we could.”
Cavanaugh soon gave the Red Rams the lead for good (26-25) before tipping in a rebound at the buzzer.
The Spartans hung around long enough in the second half to prevent McKenney from taking Coleman or Cavanaugh out. New Hartford closed to within one point, 32-31, only to see the Rams score six straight, points and achieve some separation.
J-D led 40-33 after three, before outscoring the Spartans 22-11 over the final eight minutes. Coleman said he anticipated New Hartford hanging tough and he wasn’t fazed by it.
“We played them in the summer time,” Coleman said. “They’re definitely a good shooting team. We expected them to hit a lot of threes. (But) I’ve been in more anxious games than this. I knew it was going to come to the second half.”
McKenney next begins preparing for the Purple Tigers. Cortland beat J-D with Coleman and Cavanaugh last season before the Rams avenged that defeat in the sectional final, and pushed them hard twice this season in games decided by the same eight-point margin – 59-51 on Dec. 13, 54-46 on Jan. 31.
“(Cortland) is very similar to (New Hartford),” McKenney said. “They’ve got several guys that make shots. It’ll be another great battle with them.”
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