Weekly Feature

2018-02-07 / Sports

South boys hoops holds off Health Sciences at Centercourt Classic

Dolan named Game MVP
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

Saturday’s inaugural Centercourt Classic at Williamsville South merged dream matchups for high school basketball fans and the final of the quadruple header did not disappoint.

Before a standing-room only crowd and possibly the largest crowd to ever watch a basketball game at South, the Billies led the entire game except one possession and recorded a 82-77 non-league home win over Health Sciences.

The game featured two of the top players in Western New York in Health Sciences senior Davonte Gaines, who has committed to the University of Tennessee and is nicknamed “The Ticket,” and South senior Greg Dolan, the school’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and steals who is undecided on his college plans but has been courted by a number of schools.

“This was a really big game for us that we hope translates to Buffalo State [site of section semifinals and finals],” Dolan said. “It was nice to have one of these games to prepare us. I love matching up with players like “The Ticket.” I wouldn’t have it any other way. These are the games you live for.”

Both players were named their team’s Game MVPs. Dolan tallied a game-high 36 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Gaines tallied 15 points.

“He never disappoints,” South coach Gabe Michael said of Dolan. “The bigger the stage, the better he plays. He didn’t have his best shooting game but he still found a way to score 36 points. They were toughness points, making free throws down the stretch and out-hustling people for the basketball. I thought he got hit a lot going to the basket and fouls were not called early and he was losing the ball but he adjusted to the game.”

Dolan scored 14 in the first quarter, including the last 12 of his team’s points, as the Billies led 24-9 after one.

“When we come out with energy at the beginning and really lock in on defense, it triggers our offense and it really shows what we have,” Dolan said.

“We didn’t have great starts earlier in the season but the last six games it seems like we are so ready to play,” Michael said. “I couldn’t tell you why. We have just come out of the gates ready to play basketball and if the other team is not, we will take it to you.”

The Billies went into halftime with a 40-26 halftime advantage but Health Sciences fought back in the third quarter, going on a 15-0 run and taking a 41-40 lead on a basket by junior Kameron Briggs with 3:40 left. It was Health Sciences’ only lead of the game.

“Coach told us we need to play defense and rebound and it will lead to offense,” Gaines said.

South junior Robert Richards, who was plagued by early foul trouble, answered with a three-pointer to put the Billies ahead 43-41 and then hit a layup for a 5-0 run. A three by Dolan with one second left extended the Billies’ lead to 59-51.

Richards finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“Devon [Degree] is our No. 2 scorer but there are games where Robert is every bit as good as anyone scoring the ball,” Michael said.

Michael said he liked how his team overcame adversity and answered, which was different from when they lost the lead and never got it back against North Tonawanda in last year’s Section VI Class A-1 final.

“For this team to fight back like that showed me a lot,” Michael said.

“In the first half they jumped on us but our guys fought back, showed resilience and fought back and we just didn’t play good enough to get over the hump,” Health Sciences coach Tyree Parker said. “Will South was the better team today. I tip my hat to coach Gabe, he’s a great coach and Dolan is a great player.”

The Billies were excellent from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, draining 15-of-17 attempts. Dolan went 6-of-6 and junior Devon Degree went 5-of-5.

Degree finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Michael also lauded the play of Cody Sanford at passing and driving to the basket. Sanford tallied six points, four assists, three rebounds and two blocks.

Tysheen Lott led Health Sciences with 17 points.

The Billies opened the week with a 62-36 road win over West Seneca East Jan. 30.

South jumped out to a 22-10 lead after the first quarter, and extended the lead to 40-21 at halftime and 60-26 after three. West Seneca East outscored South, 11-2, in the fourth quarter.

“It took us a while to get going,” Michael said. “We had a good third quarter. I was disappointed at how we played in the fourth quarter. It was a good road win. We chipped away and got the win.”

Dolan scored 22, and Sanford and Degree each tallied 12.

South (13-3, 8-0) hosted Hamburg Tuesday but information about the game was unavailable before The Bee went to press.

They host Starpoint at 7:30 p.m. Friday. They close out the regular season with a road league game against Williamsville East at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12 and a home game against Sweet Home at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14.

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