It couldn't have worked out any better for the Canisius High School boys basketball team on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders got revenge on a hated rival and won the Monsignor Martin regular-season title at the same time.
Adam Weir scored 23 points and Matthew Hart added 22 as the Crusaders defeated St. Joe's, 78-60, before a raucous crowd at the Bernard Kennedy Sports Complex.
Canisius finished 10-1 in league play, 18-6 overall and, more importantly, earned the top seed for the Monsignor Martin Tournament, which begins next weekend. The Crusaders will play the Nichols-Cardinal O'Hara winner Saturday.
St. Joe's, which defeated the Crusaders three weeks ago, finished 9-2 in league action and 19-4 overall. The Marauders enter the tournament as the second seed, and will play St. Francis on Saturday.
"It feels great," Canisius coach Kyle Husband said amid the jubilant celebration. "Our guys came out right from the start and had great energy. We played really hard, were aggressive on defense, and that is the key to our success."
While Canisius rightfully celebrated, the mood of St. Joe's was somber.
"I think it was one of those days, but that is still not an excuse to play with low energy," said Marauders center Reggie Agbeko, who scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. "We are a young team, not a lot of experience. But this will give us experience, and the next time around, we will know how to handle ourselves."
In a game that failed to match the hype leading up to it for the most part, the Crusaders jumped out to a commanding early lead. The Marauders briefly scared Canisius with a run in the second quarter, but never could catch up.
Canisius came out on fire, as Weir scored the first 12 points of the game, and it looked like a blowout was coming.
"It felt like the ball kept coming to me," he said. "The guys were making good passes to me when I was open. I was just finishing the layups."
St. Joe's didn't score its first basket until there was only 4:12 left in the quarter. Trailing 20-7 with 2:35 left in the quarter, the Marauders slowly climbed back into the ballgame with a 12-3 run that made it a 23-19 game.
In the second quarter, St. Joe's closed the deficit to 29-26 on two Dylan Hall free throws with 5:12 left in the half, but that was as close as they would come to the Crusaders.
"I was disappointed with the way the second quarter went," said St. Joe's coach Mark Simon. "If you dig yourself that big of a hole, it is difficult to fight back."
Early in the second half, Agbeko scored to cut Canisius' lead to 42-33, but the Marauders never embarked on a sustained run to pull closer.
"I was disappointed we couldn't get a run going," Simon said. "They played phenomenal, and they schooled us today."
Agbeko was the lone consistent offensive threat for the Marauders. Jordan Glover scored 10 points and had four steals while Kyle Briggs scored seven points.
Aaron White scored eight points for the Crusaders while Matt MacDonald added five.