For the first time since 2003, the Lions Tournament championship trophy will not be on display in the hallway of a Genesee County school.
After dispatching Batavia in the first round, University Prep ran away from Notre Dame in the 4th quarter of last night's final to clinch the crown in a champion's fashion, 63-49.
In a match-up of a Class A charter school from a populous county against a Class D private school from a rural county, the local team looked for most of the game like they might actually win the game.
But four minutes into the third quarter, a double-digit lead started to slip away after U-prep's guards hit back-to-back threes and the Irish found themselves launching bricks instead of buckets.
"It all started with the missed shots," Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone said. "Once the shots start getting missed, the game gets played at their tempo."
U-prep is a talented and athletic team. After the first round games, Rapone said his team would need to slow the pace of the game down in order to compete, and for 20 minutes, that's what they did.
Notre Dame carried a 29-17 lead into the half.
The Griffins were without three starters, all benched because they missed a practice, said Head Coach Raheem Miller.
"It's all about discipline," Miller said. "To me, you've got to be responsible. I understand things happen and whatever, but you've got to at least call. You don't just not show up."
It was OK, though. Miller still had Isaiah Brinkley at guard, another guard, Quillan Leach-Alexander, and Jeenathan Williams at forward.
Held scoreless in the first half, Brinkley let it up in the second, hitting four threes and scoring 24 points.
Leach-Alexander also hit a quad of treys and finished with a total of 19 points.
Williams, a freshman with some fine athletic moves in the lane and a deft touch from mid-distance, scored 13.
Brinkley was the tournament's most valuable player.
For Notre Dame, Josh Johnson scored 14 points and Caleb Nellis had 10.
Batavia beat Albion 68-31 in the consolution game to finish third in the tournament. Jeff Redband scored 29 points in that game.
Bishop-Timon won the tournament in 2003, and in 2004, Batavia started a tournament win streak that wasn't broken until this year.
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