With the tidal wave of attention that the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team’s Friday-night visit from Bishop Grimes will draw, it was, perhaps, beneficial to the Red Rams to have other high-profile games bridging Bob McKenney’s return to his one-time coaching home.
Monday night’s game at state Class B no. 6-ranked Westhill certainly fit into that high profile, and the Red Rams showed some serious resolve, overcoming the surrender of a nine-point lead late in regulation to take over in overtime and beat the Warriors 73-63.
Westhill, the state Class B champions in 2014 and ’15, had roared out to a 6-0 start. What was more, it had a long history with J-D, with classic battles going back decades when the two programs were in the same league and class.
So it only figured that the Rams and Warriors stood tied 19-19 after an active first quarter where Darvin Lovette, with nine points, and Buddy Boeheim, with seven points, carried the J-D attack.
Both sides cooled off for the rest of the half, but were still even, 27-27, at intermission before Lovette pushed the Rams in front with 10 third-quarter points. Even better for J-D, Jackson drew his third and fourth fouls.
With Jackson on the bench, the Rams extended its lead early in the final period. But after Boeheim made two free throws with 5:18 left to make it 55-46, J-D fell into a drought that covered most of the rest of regulation.
Several factors led to Westhill’s turnaround. Lovette went to the bench with an injury, head coach Jeff Ike drew a technical foul that sparked an 11-0 run and Terrance Echols kept missing free throws, six of them in the fourth quarter.
Yet even with all that, the Warriors didn’t take the lead until Owen Matukas hit on a three-point play with 1:50 left, and missed multiple chances to extend that lead, also watching Jackson foul out as he finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
Fouled with 11.6 seconds left, Matukas, with his team up 56-55, could make only one free throws, and J-D charged down the court tying it with two seconds left on a driving layup by Ronald Lewis.
Lovette returned for OT, and converted a three-point play with 2:19 left in the extra period to give the Rams the lead for good. All told, J-D closed on a 12-1 run, and Boeheim, with 1:38 to play, drained a long 3-pointer, from which the Warriors couldn’t recover.
John Geer led Westhill with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Sean Dadey had 13 points, six assists and four rebounds. Matukas and Braeden Elmer had eight points apiece. Boeheim got 25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks as Lovette contributed 24 points and seven rebounds.