As this was going on, more than 1,500 jammed into every possible seat and standing spot in the Cortland gym for the boys basketball showdown between the two consensus Class A favorites.
Most of them wanted to see the state Class A no. 12-ranked Purple Tigers repeat what it did a year ago - namely, beat no. 1-ranked J-D on its home floor, and get payback for a 59-51 defeat to the Rams in December. Were it not for an unlikely contributor, Cortland might have pulled it off.
At the least, Cortland forced the Rams into a pace it did not want throughout an 18-18 first half. Offensively, the Purple Tigers were patient with the ball, working the shot clock down, and on defense it constantly put two or three defenders on Dajuan Coleman to keep him from getting the ball.
So a larger scoring burden fell on J-D's guards, especially Pete Drescher. And Drescher was ready for it, getting nearly half his team's points (eight) in those first two periods, atoning for the struggles Coleman and Tyler Cavanaugh faced.
In the third quarter, though, the pace picked up on both sides. Cavanaugh, on his way to a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, hit key baskets to counter Cortland's thrusts, and the Rams inched in front, 38-36, with one period left.
Then it was Coleman and Cavanaugh hitting on six straight points early in the fourth quarter, pushing J-D's margin to 44-38, and though Cortland never lost sight, it would get thwarted in the waning minutes by clutch free-throw shooting from Drescher and Cavanaugh.
All told, Drescher had a season-best 20 points to lead both sides. Coleman, despite the defensive blanket thrown on him, still managed 13 points and 13 rebounds. In defeat, the Purple Tigers saw Jon Prior (14 points) and J.P. Reagan (11 points) reach double figures.