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I-Prep keeps championship feeling going

HENRIETTA – International Preparatory School at Grover Cleveland fended off a furious late-game comeback by Section V’s Prattsburgh for an 83-79 win in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association quarterfinals at Rush-Henrietta High School on Saturday in front of approximately 1,000 spectators.

It’s the second time in the past five years that the Shaunessy Ryan-led Presidents (19-4) will be heading to Glens Falls.

“It feels great,” Ryan said. “Any time you win it’s a good feeling, but when you go through the tournament and every team you play is better than the last one and you still get wins, it feels good. And knowing the kids worked hard, it feels even better.”

Three players recorded double-doubles for I-Prep, and two of them missed triple-doubles by one statistic. Lanky junior Davon Gant had 27 points, 19 rebounds and nine blocks, senior guard Terrance James had 20 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists and senior big man Xavier Maye had 20 points and 15 rebounds.

“I love them guys,” Gant said. “Terrance and Xavier, they’re good teammates to work with on the floor.”

“He played great,” Ryan added about Gant. “Triple-double, rebounds, blocking shots and filling the lane – he had two big finishes, which got our team hyped up. He was fantastic.”

The length and athleticism of those three versatile Presidents caused problems for the smaller Vikings.

“The athleticism obviously is a big advantage,” Ryan said. “Today” Prattsburgh “had a hard time keeping up with us when we made a few of our runs. To have Xavier, who’s just stronger than everybody, and Davon, who’s longer than everybody, with that combination we’ve really been lucky to hold the glass down.”

I-Prep went cold after Maye opened the game with an easy basket inside, as the Presidents saw the Vikings take a 13-6 lead after the first three minutes. But a 13-4 Presidents run capped off by a Jeffrey Townsel put-back got I-Prep the lead back, 19-17, with 1:17 left in the opening quarter.

The Presidents took their 23-19 first-quarter lead and extended it to 10 by halftime, 43-33. A highlight-reel dunk by Gant in transition gave the Presidents a 38-26 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter. Gant finished the half already with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds).

The Vikings capitalized on I-Prep turnovers early in the second half to bring their deficit down to 45-42 with 4:25 to go. The Presidents cleaned up their play the rest of the third quarter, though, and extended their halftime lead to 59-48 entering the fourth.

Prattsburgh’s late run was fueled by a barrage of three-pointers to pull it within two points, 81-79, with 4.7 seconds left. James got fouled immediately on the ensuing inbounds and knocked down two clutch free throws to seal the deal for the Presidents.

Prattsburgh (21-2) had four players score in double figures, led by freshman Garrett Socola and senior Cameron Baird with 14 points each.

I-Prep will be looking to win its second state title of the school year after the soccer team won a state championship back in the fall. Its first obstacle will be New York Mills (21-3) of Section III in the state semifinals on Friday at 10 a.m.

“It’s just showing a lot of success at our school,” Ryan said. “Right from the fall because of” the soccer team “winning and now with the basketball team, it’s a testament to our building, the teachers, the students and the administration.”