Strong work for 2 1/2 quarters of Saturday morning’s state Class A semifinal at Binghamton’s Floyd L. Maines Veterans Arena put the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team in prime position to knock out Section V champion Irondequoit and advance to within one victory of a seventh state championship.
But just when it counted, the Red Rams found out why the Eagles were atop the state rankings.
Irondequoit took over late in the third quarter with a 12-0 run and never let J-D regain its earlier form, the Rams eventually taking a 68-56 defeat that marked the end of a memorable winter run to the state final four.
“They (Irondequoit) stuck to their game plan,” said J-D head coach Jeff Ike. “They picked up their defensive intensity, they made us take harder shots, and those shots did not fall.”
J-D had lost two days of practice to the massive snowstorm that hit Central New York early in the week. Then, when the Rams got to Binghamton, it had to deal with the 9 a.m. tip-off time on Saturday morning, not the easiest of circumstances.
Of course, the quality of the opposition added to the challenge. Irondequoit arrived at the state final four as the state’s top-ranked Class A team, blessed with skill, size, scoring balance and plenty of confidence on hand.
But the Rams had Buddy Boeheim on hand – and he started to assert himself late in the first quarter, erasing the Eagles’ early lead with six consecutive points that pushed J-D in front.
With a variety of power moves and drives to the goal, Boeheim accumulated most of his 19 first-half points as the Rams built a 29-20 lead midway through the second quarter. Irondequoit used an 11-4 run to close the half, pulling within two, 33-31, at the break.
Unfazed by this, J-D resumed its top form by limiting the Eagles to a single field goal in the first three minutes of the third quarter, regaining a 40-33 edge.
Here, though, was where Irondequoit took over. On both ends, the Eagles bothered the Rams, first with a swarming defense that forced the action away from Boeheim and caused difficult shots, and then with an unselfish attack where players moved the ball well , both in half-court-play and in transition, that led to easy baskets.
Put it all together, and the Eagles’ 12-0 push gave it a 45-40 lead with one quarter left. Having gone nearly five minutes without a point, the Rams broke the drought with a Matt Carlin 3-pointer early in the final period and were still within four, 52-48, with more than four minutes left.
However, Irondequoit kept on finding success with its offense, while at the same time keeping Boeheim off the board in the fourth quarter until a jumper with 2:36 left. Preceding that was a 9-2 spurt by the Eagles that proved too much for J-D to overcome.
When he fouled out, Boeheim had 25 points. Just one other J-D player, Carlin, reached double figures with 11 points, while Irondequoit saw forward Gerald Drumgoole (23 points) and point guard Zach Stenglein (19 points) form an effective 1-2 scoring punch, with help from Ty’Sean Sizer, who earned 13 points.
Irondequoit would not stop there, claiming the state title on Sunday by defeating Pougkeepsie Our Lady of Lourdes 54-43 in the championship game. J-D, meanwhile, ended with a 21-4 mark, and Ike said the time and effort his team put into the season won’t soon be forgotten.
“It’s going to sting for sure, but at some point they’ll look back and enjoy that they were a state final four team,” said Ike. “They put in the extra work to get here, and I couldn’t ask for more from them.”