Champion versus champion lived up to the hype.Stafford Trueheart exceeded it.
Canisius’ senior forward did more than come to play Saturday afternoon at Park. He pretty much dominated and carried the reigning state Federation Class A champion Crusaders to a 56-53 over the Pioneers.
Trueheart scored a game-high 28 points on 13-of-18 shooting, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked three shots.
Trueheart scored 17 points during the second half as Canisius (12-1), the News’ No. 1 Large School, overcame a 27-25 halftime deficit. Trueheart’s dunk with 2:05 left sparked a 6-0 run that enabled the Crusaders to take the lead for good by the end of the quarter, 39-35. His three-point play and layup early in the fourth gave Canisius a 44-38 lead.
Park gets rocking: Trailing by four after one, the Pioneers got their faithful rocking with a quarter-opening 13-0 run that included seven points from Nwora, including a steal and a two-handed jam and a layup.
Staff jams: Stafford Trueheart had two dunks and six points and Will Atkinson a steal and trey as Canisius pulled within 27-25 at halftime. Trueheart’s dunks were met with silence compared to Nwora’s earlier jam.
Rankings: Canisius came into the game ranked first in the News Large Schools Poll but third in the New York State Sportswriters Class A poll. Park entered the game ranked second in the News poll, first in the state Class A poll.
Records: Canisius 12-1, Park 12-1