Weekly Feature



2018-03-07 / Sports

South boys hoops’ season ends in 4 OT thriller

Dolan surpasses 2,000 career points
PATRICK NAGY
Sports Reporter


Williamsville South’s Cody Sanford charges into the foul lane with a shot over West Seneca West’s Adrian Baugh during the Section VI Class A-1 final Saturday at Buffalo State Sports Arena. The Billies lost 97-95 in four overtimes. 
Photo by Jake French Williamsville South’s Cody Sanford charges into the foul lane with a shot over West Seneca West’s Adrian Baugh during the Section VI Class A-1 final Saturday at Buffalo State Sports Arena. The Billies lost 97-95 in four overtimes. Photo by Jake French The Section VI Class A-1 boys basketball final between Williamsville South and West Seneca West had all of the makings of a classic and it did not disappoint.

The second-seeded Billies lost to the top-seeded Indians, 97-95, in four overtimes Saturday at Buffalo State Sports Arena. The win improved West to 23-0 and clinched the Indians their first section title since 2000.

“That was probably the best high school basketball game that not only I have been a part of, but for everybody who was in the gym it was the best high school basketball game that they have ever seen,” West coach Desmond Randall said. “It does not get any better than that. Thankfully, we came out on top.”

The Billies had plenty of chances where the game could have been theirs.

Junior Devin Degree’s three-point attempts at the end of the first and second overtimes missed. In the closing seconds of the third overtime, layups by senior Greg Dolan and a putback by senior Cody Sanford did not fall, leaving the game tied at 90-90.

“We had six chances to win the game, and none of them went in,” South coach Gabe Michael said. “It was tough to lose but looking back years from now, it was one of the best games ever played and we were a part of it. Neither team deserved to lose. Someone had to lose and unfortunately that was us.”

In the fourth overtime with South ahead 94-91, Dolan picked up his fourth and fifth fouls with his fifth coming after West junior Juston Johnson took a charge.

Johnson then drained two free throws after South senior Josh Foster fouled out with 1:06 left, and after a steal from teammate senior Alex Wayland, drained a three-pointer with 58.6 seconds left, putting the Indians ahead 96-94.


Williamsville South’s Greg Dolan plays aggressive defense up the sideline and knocks the ball loose from McKinley’s Emir Evans during the Billies’ 50-46 win in the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals Feb. 28 at Buffalo State Sports Arena. Dolan finished his four-year high school career with 2,019 points, ranking him 17th all-time. 
Photo by Jake French Williamsville South’s Greg Dolan plays aggressive defense up the sideline and knocks the ball loose from McKinley’s Emir Evans during the Billies’ 50-46 win in the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals Feb. 28 at Buffalo State Sports Arena. Dolan finished his four-year high school career with 2,019 points, ranking him 17th all-time. Photo by Jake French “On the inbounds, we went back to our bread and butter — our press — and Alex did what he had to do and got a steal, kicked it to me and I knew I had to make it and knocked it down,” said Johnson.

“The whole game we struggled to stick to our game plan consistently,” Randall said. “At the end of the game, we finally pulled it together. We talked about Dolan and driving to the basket. We did a shot chart on him and 90 percent of his shots came in the paint. One of the goals was to take two charges against him. The second one got him out of the game.”

South senior Robert Richards closed the gap with a free throw, but Johnson tacked on another free throw when Sanford fouled out with 22 seconds left.

“To not have Greg at the time was tough, but to not have Cody was devastating,” Michael said.

Johnson finished with a game-high 38 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

“We could not have done it without everything he gave us tonight,” Randall said.

The game featured over

20 lead changes.

Both teams were knotted at 20-20 after the first quarter, although 11 of West’s points came from the free-throw line.

The second quarter featured eight lead changes, with South finally pulling ahead 39-38 late in the half on a basket by Dolan. The Billies went into halftime with a 43-40 lead.

South appeared to have taken control of the game in the third quarter, never relinquishing the lead and moving ahead, 64-56.

But West did not go away, as threes by junior Adrian Baugh (nine points), Wayland (22 points, three steals) and sophomore Nate Ryneic (14 points) cut the Indians’ deficit to 66-65, and a basket by senior Mike Borton (14 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) put West ahead 69-68 with 4:06 left.

South regained the lead on a three by Sanford with 3:23 left and a basket by Baugh tied the game at 71-71. Dolan and Borton traded baskets, knotting the game at 73-73.

Degree drained two free throws with 50.4 seconds left but Borton tied the game with 12 seconds left.

Dolan tied the game at 79-79 with 25.5 seconds left in the first overtime. After West took multiple timeouts, West was called for traveling, giving South the ball with 4.8 seconds left and Degree’s three rimmed out twice.

West built an 84-81 lead in the second overtime, but two baskets by Dolan moved South ahead 85-84 with 1:10 left.

A free throw by senior Josh Foster with 40.7 seconds left extended the Billies’ lead to 86-84, but Wayland answered for West with two free throws with 26.5 seconds remaining. Again, Degree could not connect on a three.

West built an 90-88 lead in the third overtime on baskets by Johnson and Wayland, but a basket by Richards and two free throws by Dolan tied the game at 90-90 with 1:15 left.

Baskets by Foster and Degree moved the Billies ahead 94-90 in the fourth overtime but things quickly turned when Dolan picked up his fifth foul with 1:30 left and Foster fouled out with 1:06 left, resulting in Johnson hitting 3-of-4 free throws and giving West a 94-93 lead.

Dolan finished with a team-high 36 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

The four-year starter also eclipsed 2,000 career points in the third quarter and finished with 2,019 points, ranking him 17th all-time in Section VI/Monsignor Martin Association history.

Dolan also finished his high school career as South’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and steals, and the school’s single-game scoring leader.

“In a weird way, it’s an appropriate way for him to go out because it was one of the best games ever played for one of the best players we have ever seen,” Michael said. “He’s the best. I will miss him as a person and a player.”

Richards added 20 points and eight rebounds. Degree tallied 12 points and 12 assists.

Sophomore Mike DiGiulio poured in a career-high 15 points. Foster scored seven points and Sanford added five points and six points.

South reached the A-1 final after beating McKinley, 50-46, in the semifinals Feb. 28 at Buffalo State.

The Billies never trailed against the Macks but McKinley cut the deficit to two twice in the fourth quarter, 35-33 and 39-37.

South opened the game on an 8-0 run and led 12-4 after the first quarter, but McKinley’s zone defense stifled South in the second quarter, holding them to three threes by Degree. South still led 21-11 at halftime.

The Billies clung to a 33-29 advantage after three.

South could have put the game out of reach had they hit more of their free throws. The Billies went 8-of-19 from the free-throw line in the second half, including 5-of-12 in the fourth quarter. South finished 10-of-21 overall from the line.

“We could not get anything going,” Michael said. “Credit to McKinley’s defense. We had the same game plan. We sent two guys back every time they took a shot to take their transition away and they did the exact same thing to us, which we were not expecting. They slowed us down and played half court at times, and when we did, they were great at getting out to shooters and not giving us any easy shots. They played harder and wanted it more than we did. We wanted to play to a standard and we didn’t meet that standard today.”

“They are a team that is going to come out and play just as hard as us and want it just as much as us,” said Dolan, who improved to 4-0 lifetime at Buffalo State against McKinley. “Getting another win was great. It was not up to our standard, but overall we pulled it out.”

Dolan was limited to four points in the first quarter before he scored 14 more in the second half for a game-high 19 points. He also tallied seven rebounds, three blocks, two steals and an assist.

“I was passive at the top of their zone defense in the first half,” Dolan said. “Once I started driving by them, I created more for my teammates. That is when things changed.”

“He played really hard and made some great defensive plays,” Michael said. “He didn’t have his normal offensive output, but McKinley kept us from our normal offensive output. They made it tough on him.”

Richards scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Richards also supplied four blocks and five rebounds.

Degree added 13 points and three assists. Sanford added one point, five assists and eight rebounds.

Foster chipped in two points and four assists.

Jahmal Lewis (12 points), Emir Evans (11 points) and Jaylin Windsor (10 points) led McKinley.

The Billies finished with a 19-4 record. Dolan, Richards, Sanford, Foster, Nick Geska, Dan Proch, Ethan Fuhr and John Goetzmann are seniors.

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