SYRACUSE The Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team had no choice but to call a timeout.
With just 1:45 ticked off the clock in Saturday's Section III Class A semifinal, the top-seeded-Red Rams were losing, 7-0, to a Cortland team they had already beaten twice this season.
The message delivered by head coach Bob McKenney was simple: focus. J-D did just that, and it got results, promptly going on a 17-3 run and ultimately cruising to a 72-54 victory over the no. 4 seed Purple Tigers.
Just as it did in the two previous victories over Cortland, J-D started off strong and staved off any Purple Tigers resistance that presented itself.
Following the first-quarter spurt, J-D won the second quarter 23-15 to more than double its advantage. Six J-D players scored in the period, highlighted by Dom DeRegis, who hit a demoralizing buzzer-beating three pointer to put the score to 40-25.
A back-and-forth third quarter ensued, but the Rams lost no ground, emerging with a 57-40 lead. Cortland started the fourth quarter hot, but cooled off quickly enough that it didn’t really make the Rams stress.
DeRegis had 14 points to lead his team, followed by Jafar Kinsey with 10 points and Jacob Eich with nine points. Cortland got a game-high 16 points from Sage Brown, along with 14 points from Quinn Kennedy.
Now, J-D is back in the Class A final after what happened in 2012-13, the first campaign since Brandon Triche was a sophomore in 2008 that didn’t end in the sectional championship or later.
J-D had what some might call a down year. McKenney wouldn’t call it that.
“Now, last year doesn’t seem like a down year,” he said. “Last year seems like a year we had to go through to get better. Last year’s effort would have been nothing if we didn’t learn from it. It helped some of our younger guys grow a little bit.”