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Stars hold court in Macker; Timon Canisius rallies in final

Fran Snyder, Charlie Comerford, Jason Rowe, Karl Rainey, Damone Brown and Nick Parisi all added to their Gus Macker 3-on-3 Tournament of Buffalo top men's division championship collection this weekend.

And they all did it their own special way.

Snyder, Comerford, Parisi and Kyle Husband took the ironman route Sunday as Timon Canisius came out of the loser's bracket, winning four straight games in the afternoon -- including two showdowns against runner-up Who's Next -- to capture their championship. Timon Canisius beat Who's Next, 20-18 and 15-10, behind the hot shooting of Snyder and Husband to cap a 7-0 day and a 9-1 effort during the two days of the 21st edition of the tournament.

"We were all tired," said Comerford, who has now won three titles in the top men's division. "Once you get on the floor, you start to feel better and forget about it. We saw the long road ahead of us and we were ready today. It's pretty satisfying."

Rowe and Co. were pretty satisfied, too.

Rowe, Brown, Rainey and Ka'Ron Barnes lifted Darling Paint to the other top men's division title with Rowe playing the role of heartbreaker.

Darling Paint completed a 5-0 tournament by beating last year's top men's champ Crown Ent., 18-17, and former champion HSDC, 20-10, before putting the finishing touches on a triumphant weekend with a 20-10 win over the Buckeyes Chicken in the final.

"I love it," said Rowe, the former Traditional star who played professionally in Turkey last season, of winning his third Macker in the top men's division and seventh title overall. "A lot of people question why I play because I am a professional athlete but this is home. I don't get to play in front of the home crowd that often. The opportunity presented itself and I wanted to do it."

This is the fourth straight year there have been two top men's division champions in the Gus Macker of Buffalo.

There were 36 teams entered in the top men's division this year -- enough for tournament officials to opt for two 18-team brackets. In 2008 the two champs squared off in an impromptu winner-take-all contest, but that doesn't happen anymore.

Comerford, Snyder (two-time top division champ) and Parisi (three-time champion) have won Macker titles the hard way in the past. Two years ago, they were on the Darling Paint team that came out of the loser's bracket to win the crown. But that squad had it easy, needing to win just five games after its first loss, compared to the current team, which lost to defending champion Body Blocks late Saturday to set up its long Sunday.

"It's the way we like to go, get more games and get our money's worth," Snyder quipped.

Snyder wasn't joking around on the court. He scored 14 points in the first contest against Who's Next. While Who's Next jumped to a 9-6 lead in the final game, Snyder and Husband scored eight of their team's points during a closing 9-1 run. Husband hit two from behind the arc -- the second giving Timon Canisius the lead for good, while Snyder scored the final four points.

"It was fun," said Husband, the Canisius High School basketball coach who is a first-time champion in the top division.

Darling Paint survived more than a scare against Crown Ent., which was made up of Sweet Home graduates Terrell Rankin, Steven Roberts, Ali Ramadhan and Joshua Parker, in its first game Sunday played in a light rain. Rankin's layup with two seconds left seemed like it would be the game-winner, but Rowe broke free from the pack in the paint worried about guarding 6-foot-9 former NBAer Brown (four-time Macker champ) and canned the turnaround shot from behind the arc for the winner.

"They were just thinking about Damone and he popped out wide open," said Barnes, the former Turner-Carroll star who made the inbounds pass. "I'm like, you're going to leave Jason Rowe [open]? He's a legend. He's known for breaking people's hearts and having clutch plays at the end of the games. When he was open I knew it was going in."