At 5-foot-9, Aaron White was hardly the biggest guy on the floor, and with nine points he wasn’t the leading scorer, but neither kept him from earning MVP of the Manhattan Cup or leading Canisius to a 53-47 victory over Bishop Timon-St. Jude on Wednesday.
In fact, of all the calls that were made in the game, his favorite was the 10-second call he drew in the first half when Timon couldn’t get the ball over halfcourt.
“That felt good,” said White. “I just want to hustle and play defense, I don’t really care about scoring. I just want to get their point guard out of his rhythm and get the momentum. I’m just trying to take time off the shot clock, not let them get past halfcourt, get their point guard thinking.”
An estimated 1,615 at Canisius College’s Koessler Athletic Center watched the Crusaders win their third Manhattan Cup in a row and fourth in five years.
Canisius (22-4) will host the Class A Catholic state semifinal on Saturday against Chaminade at 1 p.m. If they win, they will join Class B St. Mary’s in the finals at Fordham.
Canisius College-bound Adam Weir led the Crusaders with 15 points. His first bucket didn’t come until the 6:23 mark of the second quarter, but he scored the last eight points of the half, helping Canisius take a 33-22 lead into the locker room. Matt MacDonald added 11 points, six coming on baseline threes.
“To get three in a row, not too many people can say that,” Weir said. “I just let the game come to me, and it came to me toward the end [of the half], and that’s when I started scoring. Aaron is our backbone. We can always relay on him to guard whoever is bringing the ball up and put pressure on him the whole game.”
The Tigers, making their first appearance in the title game since 2004, ended the season 13-14. They were led by Bryant Fulton, who connected for 14 points followed by Damone Harris with 11 points and Donte Williams with 10.
The win was Canisius’ third of the season over the Tigers, the others coming during the regular season, 78-42 and 64-59. This one had the flavor of the closer game. Canisius jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Tigers wouldn’t go away, cutting the lead to 14-10 after one.
The closest they came to the lead was 21-20 when Manny Welch hit a deep three, but Canisius ended the half on a 12-2 run.
Timon outscored Canisius, 16-12, in the third quarter, but couldn’t muster the offense necessary to put the No. 1 large school on its heels. The game got too close for Canisius’ comfort in the fourth quarter, but the Crusaders would not be denied their three-peat.
“They’ve had a goal in mind from the start; their goal is to get better every day and they have,” Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. “I’ve got no idea who scored what, but when Aaron plays that way, full court and pressures the other team’s guards – guys can’t cope with that for 32 minutes. That’s why they got 47 on the board.
“Adam missed a couple early, but obviously guys are going to want to stop him,” Husband added. “He’s going to keep coming.”
• The Koessler Center will host its second championship game of the week on Friday when Sacred Heart and Cardinal O’Hara meet in a much-awaited rematch in girls basketball. The teams were undefeated when they met in the regular season with O’Hara coming out ahead, 57-55.