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Canisius, Will South hang on to win

The basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint, even though Canisius and Williamsville South tried to win their games in run-away fashion on the final day of the ADPRO Public/Private Schools Challenge at St. Joe’s.

Getting out to a big lead proved an effective strategy Saturday, but both had to put in some work late to remain unbeaten on the young season.

Jamestown almost turned a potential rout into a thrilling comeback win over the Crusaders. But LaTerrance Reed made big baskets down the stretch to offset a sensational effort by Zach Panebianco in helping Canisius post a 55-46 victory before an estimated 1,000 for the final game of the event.

Reed, who finished with 22 points, scored seven of the Crusaders’ final eight points in the final 1:39 to repel a Red Raiders crew featuring four starters from last year’s state Class AA finalist team.

“That’s the learning process,” said Canisius coach Kyle Husband. “To go through that experience so early in the season was a great experience for the team.”

What did Stafford Trueheart feel after the win?

“Sense of relief,” said the Crusaders’ junior, who finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.

In the penultimate contest of Saturday’s five-game event, Williamsville South led Bishop Timon-St. Jude by 21 late in the third quarter only to see the Tigers rally to make it a two possession game twice in the final six minutes. But the Billies regained their composure each time Timon threatened to close out a 72-61 decision.

“It was a good win,” said South senior Sam Castronova, who finished with 21 points. “We still have some things we can improve on, but it was a good win.”

Panebianco almost made Jamestown’s game against Canisius the best of day in which St. Joe’s hosted five games, including Starpoint’s thrilling 51-50 overtime win over Bishop Walsh of Olean.

The Red Raiders’ returning All-Western New York first-team pick scored a game-high 26 points and also shared the game-high in steals with four as he scored 11 points in the final 5 minutes, 13 seconds as a 12-point Crusaders edge turned into 50-45 game with 1:05 left. But Canisius, which has played four games compared with Jamestown’s two, closed it out as Josh Huffman made a free throw to make it a six-point game. A few seconds later, Reed stole a pass at center court and finished off the break with a layup to make it 53-45 Crusaders (4-0). He canned two more free throws with 14 seconds left to seal the deal.

“I keep telling everyone he’s one of the best guards in Western New York,” Husband said of Reed. “He came out and knew this was a big game. He played at a high level. … He’s one of our leaders.”

“They played their hearts out and we needed to play our hearts out and that’s what we did,” said Reed, who also had four steals.

Jamestown fell to 1-1 but coach Ben Drake said his team will be better down the road for having gone through Saturday’s contest.

“I thought we battled the entire game and showed some toughness,” Drake said. “This was certainly a good learning experience for us.”

Williamsville South threatened to turn its game against Timon into a blowout on a couple of occasions Saturday. The first came late in the first quarter when Matt Foster threw down a dunk in transition despite a fast-closing Tiger’s attempt to block the shot from behind to make it 10-4.

That seemed to wake up Timon more than dampen its spirit, as the Tigers (1-3) went on 6-2 run to get unbeaten South’s attention.

The Billies, whose 4-0 start also includes wins over Williamsville North, Hamburg and West Seneca East, turned a 21-18 game into a 30-18 edge with 1:40 left in the half as Castronova made two free throws to start the run and freshman point guard Greg Dolan capped it with a sweet drive and finish off glass.

Will South threatened to turn it into a laugher, building a 52-31 lead with 49 seconds left in the third quarter. Castronova had seven points and an assist during the run, while Dolan followed up a shake-and-bake trey with a nice drive and lefty finish. Dolan finished with 21 points and had four assists.

“He plays beyond his years,” Castronova said. “He had a couple good takes to the basket and he had that three.”

The Tigers refused to stay down, as South seemed to start feeling the effects of playing back-to-back days. Quinton Lamar scored nine of his 11 in the second half, while William Lamar led four Timon players in double figures with 17 points.

Although the Billies seemed a little fatigued, Dolan and Castronova were alert enough to beat the Tigers’ press without breaking a sweat – in effect blunting Timon’s comeback bid.

“That’s why you build such a big lead, so that you an hold on for the win,” Will South coach Gabe Michael said. “For us to beat a Monsignor Martin team is always a big deal. … I thought it was a really gutty and gritty team win, so I’m happy about that.”