SYRACUSE Following his team’s 56-53 win over Averill Park Saturday night in the Class A regional championship game at SRC Arena, Jamesville-DeWitt girls basketball coach Rob Siechen was a bit choked up.
It wasn’t because his team lost, though. It was because the Red Rams battled through a hotly-contested game, led nearly all the way through, and still emerged victorious, earning just the second state final four berth in program history.
Among other things, Siechen was emotional thinking about the effort of his star junior forward, Alyssa Robens. It was Robens who carried the Red Rams in the second half against the Section II champion Warriors, scoring 13 of her team’s 23 points in those 16 minutes.
“She had the determination that we haven’t seen [from her],” Siechen said. “She willed the win today. She really did.”
The win concluded J-D’s first sweep of the regional weekend under Siechen after two straight failed attempts that included losses to Troy last season and to Averill Park the year before.
“Before the game, we had one goal and that was to win, no matter what,” Robens said. “I’ve felt how it feels to be the other team, and it just feels great to be on top this time.”
It certainly wasn’t easy for the Red Rams to ascend to this point. While they trailed for a grand total of 36 seconds in the game against the Warriors, it was a close, physical contest throughout.
To Siechen, physicality once seemed like an Achilles' heel for his young squad. Now, after taking five straight win-or-go-home contests over Fulton, Camden, Whitesboro, Franklin Academy and Averill Park, it doesn’t seem as big an issue.
“I think it’s just the experience of having to go through it,” Siechen said. “We didn’t see [physical play] a lot during the regular season, but as you get farther into the post-season, you’re gonna see it more and more. To see those kids respond to that; it’s tremendous.”