Dec 01, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Having a Jamesville-DeWitt basketball team start out as a defending Section III Class A champion is an old story. But having two of them as defending champions is something new.
Both the girls and boys Red Rams would start 2012-13 with winning efforts on Friday night, as J-D’s girls prevailed at East Syracuse-Minoa 43-32 while, back home, the boys cruised past Mexico 61-42.
What aids the girls Rams, who ended a 14-year championship drought when it beat Cortland in last March’s sectional title game at the Carrier Dome, is the return of senior standouts Cydney Goodrum and Kayleigh Cavanaugh.
J-D’s approach, though, remains the same. Head coach Rob Siechen preaches constant, relentless, in-your-face defense that rarely allows an opponent breathing space, something ESM certainly knows about from their twice-a-season battles in the OHSL Freedom division.
So it was again on this night. Despite two early fouls, Goodrum still had 10 of her 14 points in the first half, and with the Rams’ defense again effective, that was as much as the entire Spartans squad as J-D led by as much as 13 before taking a 22-10 edge to the break.
Briefly, ESM appeared to have a chance to get close, pulling within seven, 22-15, early in the third quarter as Goodrum picked up her third foul and went to the bench.
Here, though, J-D’s attack, inconsistent and unable to make much from the outside, stepped up for the only time all night. Ariel Mussi, a defensive standout, had six points in an 11-0 run where J-D had eight points in the span of a minute.
That was more than enough, as the Spartans, under intense pressure, could not exploit an eight-minute Rams scoring drought that stretched deep into the fourth quarter, though center Gabby Eure led both sides with 16 points and Stephanie Edmonds added eight points.
Just a few miles away, J-D’s boys took its first steps away from an era that, featuring the likes of Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Cavanaugh, included five straight state Class A final four trips and four consecutive state championships.
Coleman is at Syracuse and Cavanaugh is at Wake Forest, and that’s not the only change. Head coach Bob McKenney traded in his suspenders for a red-and-white vest for the opener against Mexico, a game where, like the girls, the boys Rams would defend well.
J-D only surrendered a handful of field goals in the first half, allowing the offense to work through its share of early mistakes, part of which could be attributed to the absence of junior guard Rasheed Baker, who will miss the early part of the season due to a knee injury suffered in football season.
Fellow guard Jafar Kinsey, the J-D player with the most varsity experience, made up for Baker’s absence, steadily producing baskets as the Rams worked to a 31-17 halftime lead, and then putting the game away as the Rams outscored the Tigers 16-6 in the third period.
Kinsey produced a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Dom Deregis finished with 13 points, while Evan Dourdas managed seven points and Matt King got six points. John Eastman, with 10 points, was the lone Mexico player to score in double figures.
The win came at a big price, though, as Jeff Edwards, a key reserve last season and expected to be a major contributor this winter, broke his foot and could miss the entire season.
Without Edwards or Baker, the competition will really pick up for J-D as it hosts reigning state Class B champion Bishop Ludden Tuesday night before a Friday trip to the Peppino’s Classic for its annual clash with Class AA power Henninger. J-D’s girls go to Fulton on Wednesday and Mexico on Friday night.