February 24, 2014
Red Rams douse hot CHS start
SYRACUSE — In each of its first two meetings with Cortland High this season, the Jamesville-DeWitt boys’ basketball team had come out hot and taken control early en route to winning by 20 and 15 points.
The script changed a bit Saturday as the two teams met in the Section 3 Class A semifinals at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena.
It was the fourth-seeded Purple Tigers who started out strong in this one, taking a 7-0 lead in the first 1:46 of the game on a layup by junior point guard Sage Brown, a 3-pointer from the right corner by junior forward Quinn Kennedy and a layup by senior guard Zach Whelan.
It turned out, though, that the familiar scenario was just being delayed awhile.
After a Red Rams timeout following Whelan’s layup, J-D junior forward Dom DeRegis scored the next four points in a row. Kennedy hit a layup to make it 9-4 with 4:58 left in the first, but that would be the Purple Tigers’ last field goal until Whelan knocked down a 3-pointer 2:04 before halftime, ending a stretch of 10:54 that saw CHS outscored 27-6.
The top-seeded Red Rams led 17-10 at the end of the first quarter and upped the advantage to 40-25 at halftime on their way to recording a 70-54 win.
“I feel like J-D has many different players who can shoot from long range,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said, his team having wound up a 14-6 season. “They’ve got many different guys that can knock down the 3-ball. Jafar Kinsey really took the team on his back as a senior. He’s a good cornerstone for any team and they’ve got some great supporting pieces that are very athletic. And they compete. They definitely compete.
“We started out firing on all cylinders, but didn’t score much for awhile after it was 7-0. We had opportunities to extend the lead that we didn’t take advantage of; we got open looks inside and from behind the arc that we couldn’t make. They kept their composure and started making shots,” he added.
“WE’RE HAPPY WITH a 16-point win over a very good team,” J-D coach Bob McKenney said, his team now 18-2 and ranked 20th in the state in Class A. “I thought we had some nerves early, were really tight, so I called the timeout to settle things down. Then Dom got things going for us. He had a phenomenal first half, including a huge shot just before the buzzer that gave us our 15-point lead at halftime. Cortland had a little momentum going and Dom did great job of ending that.”
“Jafar did a great job, David Antosh had a big 3-pointer in the first quarter to help us extend our lead, Isaiah Williams played well coming off the bench and James Jones did a good job on the boards.”
“A 7-0 lead looked bad, but only because we hadn’t scored,” said DeRegis, who led the winners with 14 points, including 12 in the first half, eight of those in the pivotal second quarter. “We were still only down seven, and just had to settle down, come out and make a lot of our shots. They don’t have the defensive players to stop me, Jafar, and some of our other guys. We’re just a better team, but they always give us a tough game. They always play throughout like it’s a tie game.”
DeRegis’s 14 points led the Red Rams, with 12 of those coming in the first half and eight in the pivotal second quarter. Guard Kinsey and junior guard Williams had 10 points each to complement DeRegis while junior forward Tyler Eich had nine, senior guard Antosh eight and senior guard Adrian Autry seven.
Brown led Cortland, an honorable mention in this week’s state Class A poll, with 16 points while Kennedy had 14, Whelan eight and senior guard Qadir Artis seven.
CHS went 17-for-64 (27 percent) from the field, including 6-for-27 (22 percent) on 3-pointers. J-D was 24-for-47 (51 percent) all told from the floor, and hit six of its 19 3-point attempts (32 percent).
AS NOTED, THE PURPLE Tigers had gotten back to within 12, at 37-25, on a 3-pointer by senior forward Teddy Phillips and a layup by Brown, before DeRegis launched a short from deep behind the arc that went in as the buzzer sounded to make it 40-25.
A 3-pointer by Brown 1:35 in accounted for the first points of the second half and made it a 12-point game again, but that’s as close as CHS got as went on a 10-1 run, punctuated by a Kinsey dunk, to end all suspense and wound up taking a 57-40 lead into the fourth.
With players shuffling in and out, the Purple Tigers had a 14-13 advantage in the fourth and scored one fewer point all told than the Red Rams in the second half, 30-29.
“One thing that helped us in the second half was that J-D wasn’t allowed to play us as physical as they had in the first half,” Milligan said. “There were two different halves of officiating.
“Playing against J-D, we’d need to have a lot of things to fall our way. We’d have to shoot well while they had an off night shooting. I think we’re capable of competing; we’d have to be able to score both from behind the arc and inside. Tonight we weren’t able to do either consistently.”
The Red Rams out-rebounded Cortland 36-29, Brown and Kennedy with seven boards each for the Purple Tigers while Williams had six and DeRegis, Kinsey and Jones five each for J-D. CHS had 10 turnovers in the contest to 16 for J-D. That pleased Milligan, who attributed it at least in part to changing up defenses to include a 1-3-1 half-court press and a 2-3 zone.
THE WIN PUTS THE Red Rams in this Saturday’s Class A sectional championship game against second-seeded Bishop Ludden at the Carrier Dome in a 4:30 p.m. start. The contest matches OHSL Freedom Division champions, J-D in the National and the Gaelic Knights in the American.
Bishop Ludden, ranked 10th in the state in Class A this week, beat third-seeded Carthage 62-48 in Saturday’s other A semifinal and is also 18-2 on the season, including a 60-52 win over the visiting Red Rams back on Jan. 10.
“We won’t be the hunted, but the hunter for a change,” said McKenney, whose team will play for the sectional Class A crown for the sixth time in the last seven years, having won each of the previous five appearances. “We’re excited to get another shot at Bishop Ludden; they’re the team to beat, and have been since November. I think it’s a match-up that people are looking forward to. It’s kind of contrasting styles -- their size against our small and quick, and a little bit of craziness. I think it’ll be a fun game.”
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