Dolan saves best for last; Williamsville South outlasts UPrep

Jeenathan Williams finished with a game-high 27 points.
Jeenathan Williams finished with a game-high 27 points. (Photo by RON KALASINKAS)

By PAUL GOTHAM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A winter storm delayed the arrival of the Williamsville South Billies on Saturday afternoon. Perhaps the inclement weather’s after effects limited Greg Dolan for the first half.

In the end, neither weather nor the UPrep Griffins could halt Williamsville South’s leading scorer.

Dolan scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, and N0. 16 NYS Class A Williamsville-South upended N0. 5 NYS Class AA UPrep, 70-64 in the Rochester Area Players (RAP) Showcase at Aquinas Institute.

Dolan converted six free throws and knocked down five field goals in the final stanza. This after scoring just three times in the first half.

“I think the bus ride hurt him,” Williamsville South head coach Gabe Michael joked when asked about Dolan an All-State performer a year ago who recently scored his 1,000 point in his career. “It was probably his worst half.

“We didn’t get here until 40 minutes before tipoff,” Michael explained. ” It took us an hour and 40 to get here by bus. The first 30 minutes of the ride was very slow, slower than expected.”

Trailing by as many as five points early in the fourth, Dolan scored six straight for the Billies. He knocked down a jumper after grabbing loose ball in an offensive rebounding situation. Then used a ball screen at the top of the key to get to the basket for two more.

Dolan converted one of two free throws with 5:06 remaining to give Williamsville-South a 54-53 edge. They did not trail again.

With Dolan struggling to find the measure in the first half, five different Billies picked up the slack. Adam Braniecki scored 11 of his 15 points in the first 16 minutes. Cody Sanford added seven. Devin Degree, Anthony Lombardo and Mark Worthy scored four apiece as the Billies took a 34-39 advantage into the locker room.

“That’s kinda who we are,” Michael noted. “We have a lot of different guys who can step up. Cody one nght. Adam Braniecki another. Any guy can step up. That’s the beauty of our team. We’re very unselfish. They pick each other up. We talk about that all the time. If one guy’s playing badly, that’s okay. Next guy play well. We did a good job of that.”

Jeenathan Williams netted six of his game-high 27 as UPrep outscored Williamsville South 14-7 in the third quarter to grab a two-point edge. The 6-foot-6 junior knocked down a pull-up jumper. Jabez Thomas followed with a putback slam in transition.

Williams hop stepped through a pair of defenders and finished a one-hander to cut the deficit to one at 36-35. He used a hesitation dribble from the wing to get in the lane to knot the game at 41. Elroy Clark gave UPrep the lead at 43-41.

But four Griffins fouled out of the game including Thomas along with fellow starters Jakhi Lucas and James Barnes as well as JJ Strothers.

“We’re an aggressive team,” said first-year UPrep coach James Reaves. “We play hard. There were fouls on both ends. It is what it is.

“We beat ourselves. I’m going to say we made 20 turnovers, unforced turnovers. Turnovers, that’s what it was.”

The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for UPrep (13-3) which last fell to Irondequoit on December 28th.

“To win a sectional title, you got to be able to play disciplined teams. That team is very similar to Fairport,” Reaves said referring to Section Five Class AA favorite. “I think that’s Fairport all the way. If we can’t beat teams like that, we don’t have a chance. That’s Fairport. That’s what it was.”

UPrep’s Thomas scored nine of his 16 points in the first quarter. The sophomore center hit one of two free throws to start the game. He had a steal and dunk before scoring twice on baseline out-of-out bounds plays. His follow on the break made it 13-13 game. He picked up his fourth foul with 4:56 to go in the third and eventually was disqualified with 5:32 remaining in the game.

Williamsville-South led 20-17 after the first quarter.

UPrep plays at Pittsford-Sutherland Monday, January 30th.

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