Most figured the race for supremacy among the large schools in the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association to be wide open this boys basketball season. So far it's lived up to that billing, resulting in entertaining, intense games for the most part.
Friday night in Athol Springs was no different, with the hosts getting the better of a Southtowns rival for the first time in years.
St. Francis bounced back from a tough non-league loss to News' No. 3 Large School Williamsville South by defeating fourth-ranked Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 69-62, before more than 600 at St. Francis.
The News' second-ranked large school, which beat No. 1 and fellow MMHSAA contender Park last week in double overtime, surged ahead for good during a 12-0 run in the second quarter and made the plays the rest of the to thwart comeback bids by the Tigers.
Roburt Welch led the winners with 23 points to share game-scoring honors with Timon star Davion Warren. Welch scored nine in the fourth quarter, hitting 5 of his last six free throws after going 0 for 3 earlier in the quarter.
Recent history: Fans have to go back to 2010 for the last time St. Francis beat Timon in a basketball game. The Tigers came into Friday having won the last 14 meetings between the Southtowns rivals. According to the Red Raiders' Brian Ferris, three have been overtime decisions during his coaching tenure.
Records: St. Francis is 11-4, 4-1 in the Monsignor Martin play. Timon 9-4, 3-2.
Rankings: St. Francis is ranked 12th in the state sportswriters' poll, while Timon is 22nd
Next: St. Francis visits Niagara Catholic on Monday, while Timon returns to action against another ranked opponent – heading to Lancaster to face ninth-ranked small school St. Mary's.