Senior Jamall Taylor and the Whitefish Bay Dominican basketball team are one step closer to erasing three years of state tournament disappointments. After defeating Brookfield Academy, 87-66, Tuesday night at Milwaukee South Division, Taylor will finally get his chance at a sectional final Saturday afternoon against Howards Grove.
“I just left it all on the floor tonight,” Taylor said. “This is my senior year and we lost in the same spot three years in a row, so we made sure to give everything we had today.”
The victory adds to a remarkable run for the Knights of 22 consecutive wins and 17 wins by 20 or more points this season. They move to 24-1 on the year, including three wins over Brookfield Academy. The Blue Knights end the year at 16-10 but didn’t go away without a solid joust.
“It was a good test because it forced us to make good decisions, take care of the ball and play for four full quarters,” Dominican head coach Paul Wollersheim said. “I think that’s the best thing coming out of tonight is us having to play hard for four quarters.”
Dominican used a 14-0 run that spanned from the late stages of the first half to the middle of the third quarter to take command of the game. Taylor lead the Knights with 28 points, junior Duane Wilson scored 23 and freshman Diamond Stone added 19. Senior Domonique Criss led all scorers with 29 points keeping his Blue Knights team in the game most of the way.
Brookfield Academy came out in a zone for the first half in an attempt to limit the inside game of Stone. That zone kept the Blue Knights in the game by forcing outside jump shots, and Criss scored eight first-quarter points to put Brookfield Academy up by point at the end of the first quarter. It was the first time Dominican trailed after the first quarter since playing Brookfield Academy the first week of January.
“They played a zone in the first half and had it packed in a little bit,” Wollersheim said. "Once we started putting the ball on the floor and drawing them to us instead of just passing the ball around the perimeter, I thought we were more effective against it.
“When they came out in man for the second half we were able to spread out a little and get the ball inside.”
The teams battled through two ties and nine first half lead changes in the second quarter. Brookfield Academy held a four point lead, its largest of the game, midway through the second quarter. It was at that point that the 6 foot-9 inch Stone began asserting himself under the basket.
A pair of thunderous dunks by Stone along with a couple of free throws spurred a 16-5 Dominican run to end the half, capped by a buzzer-beating three pointer by Taylor from just inside the half court line. The Knights did not trail after taking the lead late in the second quarter.
“Pretty much any team we play we have an inside advantage so we try to get him involved right away,” Taylor said. “Sometimes he gets down on himself because he’s only a freshman, so we try to pick him up and lift him up as much as possible.”
Criss managed to pull Brookfield Academy to within 12 points on two occasions late, knocking down a three at the end of the third quarter and again in the fourth quarter. That would be as close as the Blue Knights would get in the final frame despite a full 32 minute effort. Blue Knights coach Pat Clarey was happy with the effort from his players.
“It’s the third time we’ve played them and I think they are the best team in the state regardless of class,” Clarey said. “I know Germantown has something to say about it, but Dominican is the complete team.
“They have the size, the physicality, the ability to put it on floor and get it to the rim, they’ve got a top 50 kid in Wilson, and oh my God can they shoot it.”
The Knights hit 11 three-pointers in the game, and Academy drilled nine of its own. The extraordinary shooting effort from both teams made for a good send off for the Blue Knights seniors, despite the loss.
“That starting five had to play basically 32 minutes,” Clarey said. “I think our backcourt with Domonique and Sean is one of the best, and it kept us in it.
“I’m so very proud of all five of those starters and my seniors especially.”
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