continued 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.”