It’s hard to beat any team three times in one season. It’s even harder when that foe is a rival.
Two-time defending state Catholic champion Canisius found a way to beat St. Joe’s for the third time this season. Unlike the previous two meetings between the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association boys basketball teams, the Crusaders had to rally from a halftime deficit in order to give themselves a chance at winning a third straight championship.
The Manhattan Cup playoffs started in earnest Thursday night with Canisius edging St. Joe’s, 59-52, to cap a tripleheader at Villa Maria College.
Jayce Johnson had 11 points and 10 assists for the Crusaders, who had four players in double-figures. Colby Moultrie added 12 points and seven rebounds for Canisius, which faces top-seeded Bishop Timon-St. Jude at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Villa. Timon beat the fourth-seeded Crusaders twice during the regular season.
Canisius trailed the Marauders, 30-29, at halftime as Naseer Jackson scored 16 of his game-high 22 points during the opening 16 minutes for St. Joe’s. The Crusaders took a 38-34 lead into the final quarter.
“They played all zone throughout the entire game,” Canisius coach Kyle Husband said on what St. Joe’s did differently after dropping 62-33 and 72-49 decisions to the Crusaders during the regular season. “I thought Coach” Mark “Simon did a great job. They definitely slowed us down and played at a pace they’re comfortable with. We weren’t able to get into transition or any easy looks. Offensively they ran a lot of good sets ... and shot the ball great in the first half. I give them a lot of credit for how hard they battled throughout. I just think we had a little bit extra in the second half that got us over the top.”
Jake Zeis scored nine of his 12 points during the first half for Canisius, which also received 11 points from Nick MacDonald.
In Manhattan Cup Class B playoffs play-in game action, Tavien Kemp scored 25 points to lead Archbishop Walsh to a 60-43 victory over Christian Central. The Eagles will face top-seeded St. Mary’s of Lancaster in Saturday’s semifinal.
In the other Class B play-in game, defending champion Nichols led by just two at halftime in a rematch of last year’s final before pulling away from Niagara Catholic, 53-37. Will Johnson scored 16 points to lead the winners, while Myles Hervey added nine points and 11 rebounds. Five Vikings scored during an 18-7 third quarter that proved the difference.
Nichols faces No. 2 Cardinal O’Hara in another semifinal Saturday.
OP girls win Class AA final rematch
There will be a new Section VI Class AA girls basketball champion.
In a rematch of last year’s final, No. 8 Orchard Park rode the hot shooting of Sam Fischer during a 21-3 first quarter en route to a 51-35 victory over defending champion Williamsville North.
Fischer got the hosts off to a great start, scoring 14 of her game-high 22 points during the opening eight minutes to put the ninth-seeded Spartans in an inescapable hole.
“We worked on some new offensive sets with her and she did a nice job capitalizing on that,” OP coach Gary Janas said.
Fischer also recorded 10 rebounds, seven steals, three assists and three blocks.
Recent junior varsity call-up Lily Flannery proved an ‘X’ factor shooting from the outside, draining 3-of-4 three-pointers for the Quakers, who will face top-seeded Clarence in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round.
Bailey’s basket wins it for GI
Samantha Bailey’s jumper with 30 seconds proved the game-winner for Grand Island in a 47-46 win over Sweet Home in Class A-1. Bailey finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds, while Kelsey Harrigan added 12 as the No. 2 seed survived a scare from its seventh-seeded guests with an 11-9 fourth quarter.
Also in Class A-1, Canisius Cup rivals battled for the right to move on to the Section VI semifinals. McKinley solved the riddle that had been Hutch-Tech – beating the Engineers for the first time in three meetings, 46-39.
The Macks’ tight, switching defenses caused the No. 4 seeds problems during the first half as No. 5 McKinley led, 24-13, at the break. The Macks finished with 12 steals. Jacinda Wilson scored a game-high 24 points to lead McKinley, which dropped decisions of 63-28 and 53-52 to Hutch-Tech during the regular-season.
Brigid McKeone and Katie Villarini each scored 16 points as Hamburg advanced with a 48-34 win over Williamsville East. The Macks face top seed and defending class champion Williamsville South in the semifinals March 1 at Williamsville North. South cruised into the semifinals with a 74-34 victory over West Seneca West – using a 25-0 run after falling behind 3-0 to seize control.
-- In Class A-2, Sara Pfeiffer scored 41 points to lead Olean past Iroquois 69-55. … Claire Wanzer had 28 points as Amherst cruised past Lew-Port, 70-19. ... Top seed Kenmore East defeated Pioneer, 63-46, as Serena Sordetto (24 points) and Kendall Mills (21) led the winners. ... Defending Class A champion Lake Shore topped Cheektowaga, 75-30, as Raeann White’s 26 points led nine scorers for the Eagles. Noelani Cornfield added 20.
-- In Class B-1, No. 6 Fredonia, a section finalist last year, took down No. 3 Tonawanda, 52-18. Hannah Cybart (13 points) and sister Caitlin combined for 22 points. They’re among six returnees from last year’s crew that lost in the final to Southwestern. Fredonia led, 11-2, after one as it took away the Warriors’ inside threats. Fredonia will face No. 2 East Aurora, which beat No. 7 Newfane, 65-34, behind Sarah Tully’s 20 points.
-- Nia Caver had 20 points and now has 1,510 in her career to lead Tapestry past Portville, 59-38, in Class C-1. She also had 15 rebounds, nine assists and eight steals.
-- In Class B-2, Jene Brown had 25 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks to lead No. 5 Medina past fourth-seeded MST Seneca, 61-19.
-- In Class D, Clymer beat Pine Valley in overtime, 64-59, as Lauren Dunnewold’s 25 points and 12 rebounds led the fifth-seeded winners. ... Panama defeated Sherman 60-44. The loss ends the career of longtime Sherman coach Mel Swanson, who led the girls team to 607 wins during his tenure.