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Saturday Afternoon Live from the MLK Classic: Wins for Canisius, McKinley, St. Joe's, Lafayette

Hello from the very bright, very shiny and quite impressive new gym at City Honors -- my first visit to the school (umm, because they had no gym 🙂 ).

City Honors' shiny new gym hosts today's MLK Classic. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Today is the annual MLK Classic, usually a good midseason barometer for the many top programs who are involved.

The four-game lineup is divided into two sessions: Lafayette faces Lackawanna at 11 a.m. followed by St. Joe's meeting OTC Middle College at 12:30 p.m.; in the second session, McKinley faces Sweet Home at 3 p.m. followed by a 4:30 p.m. matchup of the No. 1 small school in International Prep at Grover Cleveland against No. 4 large school Canisius.

11:20 a.m. After the first quarter of our first game, Lafayette has a 13-5 lead on Lackawanna. Both coaches have already reached vein-bulging level as Tim Foley slammed a clipboard after some poor play by his Steelers while Karl Maggiore got typically fired up at his Mighty Violets.

Lackawanna has had personnel issues all season and seems that is the case again today as senior guard Dondre Alexander is not in the starting lineup, nor is senior Christian Cheatom.

11:36 a.m. At halftime of our first game, Lafayette leads Lackawanna, 31-21. Extension cord set-up time for me.

11:40 a.m. OK. All set there. The extension cord and power strip from our trunk pays off again. Life as a high school reporter.

The game has been a little sloppy, which is to be expected a bit with Lackawanna's struggles with its lineup while Lafayette is used to playing in its slender gym which lends itself to a frenetic game. It also can help benefit the Violets -- they finished off several fast breaks in tight quarters near the rim that looked tough out here, but they would be the norm in Lafayette's gym, where the entire game is played in tight quarters (opposing coaches have long referred to it as a bowling alley).

11:54 a.m. Lafayette on an 8-0 run to take a 42-30 lead. Run included a fast-break behind-the-ball assist by big man Davon Ferguson.

12:01 p.m. That 8-2 run became a 13-0 run in what would be a 22-11 third quarter for Lafayette, which now leads, 53-32. The Violets forced several turnovers and kept scoring fast-break points.

12:10 p.m. Timeout Lackawanna with 3:56 left in the game and Lafayette up, 64-44.

12:19 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lafayette 68, Lackawanna 56.

Interview time for us and we'll be back for the next game in a few minutes.

12:41 p.m. Introductions for St. Joe's and OTC Middle College are under way. St. Joe's is definitely the favorite in this one, especially coming off a very big win at Timon Thursday night.

12:48 p.m. Timeout St. Joe's early on as OTC is off to a very impressive start, leading 12-6, with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.

12:56 p.m. Middle College is up, 17-13, with 2.7 seconds left but the game is delayed for not a good reason for OTC. Senior standout Davon Alexander went down in serious pain and has been helped off the court after his right sneaker was removed. He's on the training table. Onlookers were hopeful that it was a cramp, but it didn't look that way when he went down. That would be a serious loss for OTC.

1 p.m. We are at the end of the first quarter with OTC Middle College leading St. Joe's, 17-13. The Kats leading at this point is certainly an eyebrow-raiser, although St. Joe's has shown that it can be inconsistent thus far this season. The Kats are playing very well also -- junior Khalid Brown has been very impressive with some high energy, two threes and some aggressive, quick drives to the basket.

Big man Reggie Agbeko had to sit after picking up two fouls in the first.

1:14 p.m. St. Joe's has a 32-29 lead with 1:24 left in the second quarter and it's another delay we don't want to see. St. Joe's junior Chad Kelly, the first-team All-Western New York football player, went down hard to the court in pain. His right sneaker was taken off and a trainer attended to him before he walked off the court on his own power. 

1:19 p.m. We are at halftime and St. Joe's is up, 37-32. Strong finish to the quarter by St. Joe's, a 5-1 spurt that gave the Marauders the five-point lead after a quarter in which the score was much closer throughout.

OTC continued to play very well, particularly when you consider that Alexander was out for the quarter. Great energy on both ends, great hustle on defense and nice decisions and passing on offense. I think perhaps St. Joe's did a little overestimating here -- I would too (I knocked OTC down in my poll after their over-the-break loss down in Olean) -- and were not ready for OTC's pressure. OTC has set the tone of the game with its pressure, but Joe's has been very good finishing many opportunities, including many by senior Connor Rehbaum. 

1:37 p.m. St. Joe's coach Mark Simon calls his second timeout in exactly a minute of game time with the Marauders leading, 43-38. Let's just say he's not pleased.

1:46 p.m. At the end of three quarters, St. Joe's leads OTC Middle College, 48-43.

Lots of action, lots of fun here. OTC playing very well and making this much more of a game than anticipated, again, especially when you consider Davon Alexander hasn't played since the first quarter due to an ankle injury.

1:50 p.m. Another injury timeout with 7:11 left as Khalid Brown wend down to the court with seemingly the same injury on the same spot on the court as the two previous occassions in this game. He's out of the game for now. Big blow to the Kats, who trail, 50-43.

1:52 p.m. Timeout by OTC Middle College coach Randall Rich with St. Joe's now up, 54-43, with 6:06 left in the game after the Marauders took advantage of some OTC turnovers.

2:03 p.m. Losing its second top player has been too much for OTC to take. St. Joe's is now up, 69-46, with 1:36 left in the game.

2:07 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: St. Joe's 69, OTC Middle College 54.

More to come -- the next game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

3:05 p.m. The box scores and recaps for the first two games are updated at our basketball scoreboard page.

We're under way with McKinley-Sweet Home, which has made for high-energy, high-entertainment over the last few seasons -- including at the MLK two years ago.

3:18 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, McKinley leads Sweet Home, 16-11.

McKinley, ranked 10th to start the week but certainly headed much higher after wins over East and at Riverside this week, is certainly the favorite here. The deep and talented Macks are playing inspired, smart ball under coach Zaire Dorsey. Sweet Home, coached by first-year coach Scott Martin, has hung around by displaying the same kind of energy we're used to seeing the Panthers play with under former coach Paul Schintzius.

3:21 p.m. More high energy from Sweet Home, whose bench is very into the game as the Panthers have cut the McKinley lead to 18-16 with 6:50 left in the second.

3:31 p.m. Anthony Sanders with a follow basket to put McKinley up, 29-20, and prompt a timeout from Sweet Home with 3:18 left in the second quarter.

3:42 p.m. At halftime, McKinley leads Sweet Home, 36-23. An 11-3 run to end the quarter puts McKinley in control, including a basket by John Black off a pass from hustling reserve Bryant Cunningham, who got the ball and passed it to Black while seated on the floor.

Great coaching by Dorsey in the last minute of the half -- he called a timeout right after that Black basket, with 16.1 seconds left in the half and set up a press to try and get the ball back. It worked, as Sweet Home turned the ball over with an errant inbounds throw. The Macks didn't score, but still a nice keep-the-pressure-on move.

3:57 p.m. Great start of the third quarter for McKinley (6-0) and the opposite for Sweet Home, which calls a timeout with 5:09 left in the third with the Macks up, 42-23. The Macks continue to impress, all over the boards and on defense. Sweet Home has shot too quickly and has turned the ball over.

4:13 p.m. After three quarters, McKinley leads Sweet Home, 51-32. A nice finish to the quarter as Damone Canty scores a tough layup after taking a touchdown-like inbounds pass from Kelvin Henderson in the final seconds.

4:16 p.m. Timeout Sweet Home with 6:48 left having cut into the lead, 51-35.

4:27 p.m. McKinley has pushed its lead back up to 24 (65-41) with 2:13 left in the game. Just had a timeout here. The Macks' lead was cut to 14 (53-39) before they went on a 8-0 run, largely with transition baskets off misses or turnovers it forced.

A nice crowd is already on hand for what will be the final game of the day, Canisius vs. I-Prep at Grover.

4:36 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 69, Sweet Home 46.

Some interviews for me and we'll be back with the MLK Classic finale in a bit.

5:36 p.m. My apologies about the hour delay. I had some PrepTalkTV duties to attend to, and I spend a lot of the first half updating our basketball scoreboard page.

We are at halftime of our finale and Canisius looks pretty great. The Crusaders lead I-Prep at Grover, 37-19.

Matt Hart has been great from the outside -- three three-pointers in a 25-12 first half for Canisius -- while Aaron Nevins has been very good on both ends.

5:45 p.m. I-Prep has cut it to 42-30 with just over three minutes left in the third.

5:50 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Canisius leads I-Prep, 47-32.

Canisius had a great close to the quarter after I-Prep threatened to really make it a game. Nevins scored on a backdoor cut off a Hart pass and Hart scored on a baseline drive in the final 1:30.

5:52 p.m. Quick and good timeout by I-Prep coach Shaunessy Ryan as his team trails, 50-32.

5:59 p.m. I-Prep's Ryan calls a timeout following two free throws by Chris Holland that make it a 59-43 Canisius lead.

6:05 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Canisius 72, I-Prep at Grover 52.

Box score will be online in just a bit, after interviews and such.

* * *

All box scores are at our basketball scoreboard page. Be sure to check back for our episode of PrepTalkTV and look for a story tomorrow in the paper and

Be sure to check that ECIC I game in the scoreboard as well -- huge win for Lancaster as it takes a season sweep of Clarence. Throw that in with Frontier's win over Will North last night and the ECIC I race is pretty ridiculous. Jamestown has two tough road tests coming up this week at Clarence Tuesday and at Will North Friday.

---Keith McShea

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