Jamesville-DeWitt forward Jafar Kinsey (25) flies to the basket and converts in Friday night's game against East Syracuse-Minoa. Kinsey led the Red Rams to a 66-54 victory over the Spartans, finishing with 23 points.
The fact that both of Jamesville-DeWitt's basketball sides earned Friday-night victories over East Syracuse-Minoa was just part of the narrative.
By prevailing 58-44, the girls Red Rams remained one of the few undefeated teams in Section III, and the J-D boys, with its 66-54 victory over the Spartans, signaled that its December struggles may be quickly fading into the background.
A combination of superstar departures (no more Dajuan Coleman or Tyler Cavanaugh), injuries (to Rasheed Baker and Jeff Edwards) and a brutal early schedule that included Bishop Ludden, Henninger and Fayetteville-Manlius (twice) pushed J-D's boys to a 2-5 start.
But with Baker and Edwards back, the Rams brought a full-strength roster to ESM, who at 5-3 figured that this was one of the best opportunities to beat J-D in a long time.
That notion quickly got extinguished, though, when the Rams roared out to a 20-6 first-quarter lead, combining a fast pace with constant defensive pressure that forced many Spartans mistakes.
ESM did close the gap to 32-24 by halftime, but J-D regained control in the third quarter, restoring its double-digit margin and answering everything the Spartans threw at them late.
Jafar Kinsey worked his way to 23 points, including a pair of 3-pointers and seven successful free throws. Dom DeRegis finished with 13 points, while Edwards got 10 points.
On ESM's side, Jeff Richardson led with 20 points, with Jeff McDuffie adding 12 points. Jah-Meer McDuffie (nine points) and Eyan Underwood (eight points) also made solid contributions.
Just a few miles down the road, J-D's girls, off for two weeks since a come-from-behind Dec. 21 win over Nottingham, returned from that break refreshed, and not rusty.
That was especially the case for the Rams' senior guard, Kayleigh Cavanaugh. Quiet on the offensive end through much of J-D's 8-0 start, she spoke out quite loudly in the first half against the Spartans, sinking five 3-pointers on her way to 20 points in those first two periods.
Cavanaugh would cool off in the third quarter, and ESM took advantage. Led by Gabby Eure, who had 20 points, and Nicole Cassella, who got 13 points, the Spartans closed within 41-35 by the end of the third quarter.
It took the Rams going to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to pull away. Alyssa Robens picked up six of her 12 points from the foul line, and Cydney Goodrum gained eight of her 10 points from free throws. Maddy Frank added seven points as ESM's Amanda Marsh gained six points.