There was not too much drama during the Manhattan Cup quarterfinals. There is expected to be plenty of it in Monday's final four.
Top four seeds Canisius, St. Joe's, St. Mary's and Bishop Timon-St. Jude all won rather handily on Saturday to advance to Monday's semifinals at Canisius College.
No. 2 seed St. Joe's, which had stunningly lost at home to St. Francis during the final week of the Monsignor Martin Association regular season, used a 22-8 second quarter to rout the visiting Red Raiders this time, 73-58.
No. 3 seed St. Mary's ran away from Niagara Catholic, 79-42, in the second game of a doubleheader at St. Joe's.
At Canisius, the top-seeded Crusaders cruised to a 79-43 victory over Nichols before No. 4 seed Timon-St. Jude beat Archbishop Walsh, 59-50.
Canisius (19-6) and Timon (16-9) will meet in the 6 p.m. semifinal on Monday, followed by St. Joe's (20-4) and St. Mary's (19-6) at 7:45.
"It should be a great atmosphere -- the four best teams in league are facing off," said Canisius coach Kyle Husband, whose Crusaders were led by junior Adam Weir's 17 points and senior Matt Hart's 14. "[Sunday] is going to be a long day. We can't wait until Monday already."
Canisius beat Timon twice during the regular season, including a 65-63 overtime win in South Buffalo on Feb. 16. The Tigers, ranked among the top 10 large schools all year, haven't notched a win over St. Joe's or Canisius since the 2009-10 season.
"We're hoping it's not going to be Monday," said Husband. "This is what we've worked so hard for all year, is to get to the semifinals and hopefully the final. We've had two hard-fought games with Timon [Canisius had a big second half to come back and win at home, 57-46, on Feb. 2]."
The Tigers jumped to a 28-19 halftime lead over Walsh, which they extended to 46-30 after three quarters thanks to 16-point efforts from seniors Kyle Kobis and big man DeMilo Gibbs as well as a 13-point game from senior Jordan Williams. The Eagles -- led by senior Marcus Clarke (20 points, four threes) -- hit five of their 10 three-pointers in the fourth to cut the lead to six but got no closer.
Timon coach Jim Palano credited Bryant Fulton (11 rebounds) for his defense on Walsh senior standout Ryan Whelpley (nine points) for helping the Tigers earn what he called "Round Three" with Canisius.
"It's going to come down to fourth quarter," said Palano, who is retiring at the end of this season. "We feel we can beat them. We feel we can beat anybody. We've got to prove it."
St. Mary's had little trouble with Niagara Catholic, using a 24-10 second quarter to take a 42-23 halftime lead. The Lancers had 13 players score, led by seniors Jake Denz (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Devin Redden (15 and 10) powering to baskets in the lane.
"When you are as senior-laden as we are [10 seniors], there's a sense of urgency that comes into play," said St. Mary's coach Dan Gill. "This is the leadership we've been hoping we've been getting it all year and you're seeing it.
By virtue of being the lone League A school to advance to the semifinals, St. Mary's has clinched a state playoff spot. The Lancers will be the Class B representative unless they win the Manhattan Cup (and the Class A berth).
"We've talked all year that the school has never won a Manhattan Cup," said Gill. "With the three teams that are left, there are a lot more Manhattan Cups in their trophy cases than ours."
Gill added: "We've got to get better [Sunday] before we take a swing at St. Joe's [which beat visiting St. Mary's, 65-59, on Jan. 3]. They're back rolling again."
St. Joe's stopped a two-game losing streak after a regular-season finale loss to Canisius and all but erased the memory of its 51-50 home loss to St. Francis. The Marauders went up at the half, 37-19, and maintained a large lead despite the three-point bombing of the Red Raiders (senior Brennan Macey had three threes among his 17, junior Tyler Wagner had five for his 15 and junior Cory Cullen had four among his 15).
"We had a bad taste in our mouth from that game," said senior Kyle Briggs, who scored 19 points. "We felt like we played bad and we know it, and we just wanted to show everyone that we still have it in us to go all the way."
Senior Reggie Agbeko had 15 of his 21 points in the first half for St. Joe's.
"What was different today from the other two [losses] was that we used a lot of energy," said Agbeko. "We played hard for the start and finished hard."
The game marked the end of the coaching career of St. Francis coach Ed Hoak, who started coaching at St. Peter & Paul grammar school in 1982 and has been with St. Francis for 16 years, the last five as varsity coach.
"I still love it, I still love St. Francis," said Hoak. "I'm only here for one reason: To make the kids better basketball players and to win the Manhattan Cup."