SYRACUSE No more waiting for the Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball team - after a quest that consumed 14 seasons and all sorts of near-misses, the Red Rams are, at last, Section III champions again.
Balanced scoring, a strong mid-game surge and cool precision down the stretch in the face of a fierce comeback attempt were enough for J-D to get past Cortland 47-38 in Thursday night's Class A final at the Carrier Dome.
"It's been a long drought," said head coach Rob Siechen. "It's great for these kids to break through."
Kayleigh Cavanaugh, who had 13 points and was named tournament MVP, said her team's intentions were clear from the start of the winter.
"We had this goal from the start, and we played our hearts out," she said.
That effort required J-D to beat Cortland for the third time this season. As before, the Rams' efforts centered around containing the Purple Tigers' star forward, Maggie Brown, who is headed to Le Moyne College.
That didn't prove successful in the first quarter. Brown's aggressive drives to the baskets led to eight quick points, and Cortland gained a 10-7 lead.
For its part, the Rams were settling for outside jumpers, and not making them - something, said Siechen, that wasn't too surprising, given the difficulty any team unfamiliar with the Dome has adjusting to the vast setting.
But with J-D still trailing 14-9 early in the second quarter, one of those shots, from Stephanie Mannion, dropped for a 3-pointer. That seemed to loosen up Cortland's tight defenses, and the Rams' guards plowed right through them, drawing fouls and getting easier baskets inside.
"We got on the fast break, and got layups instead of jump shots," said Cavanaugh.
Cydney Goodrum, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, put it another way.