Canisius High School coach Kyle Husband has called the quality of his team’s February schedule “ridiculous.”
On Friday night, thanks to some clutch late defensive work and an excellent night at the free-throw line, the Crusaders started the month – and a tough weekend – with a hard-earned, 64-59 victory over host Bishop Timon-St. Jude in the Monsignor Martin Association before a near-capacity crowd.
Canisius (14-3, 8-0), ranked second in The News large school poll, led the entire game and held on to the slimmest leads in the final minutes to beat No. 7 Timon (10-8, 6-2) before an estimated 500.
“In the last three or four minutes, we passed the ball better than we did throughout the game, and our ‘D’ was way better,” said Husband. “When we play ‘D’ like that, we’re tough. We have to keep getting better.”
With Canisius leading by one, the Crusaders forced a turnover and senior Adam Weir, who has signed with Canisius College and led his team with 28 points, put down a two-handed fast-break dunk for a 56-53 lead with less than three minutes to play.
In the final two minutes, Canisius forced a shot clock violation, defense by senior guard Aaron White (seven points) earned a five-second call, and the Crusaders preserved its lead by making Timon’s final possessions frenetic ones.
Senior Matt MacDonald (nine points) sealed the win with two free throws with 6.6 seconds left for the final score.
“We wanted to keep getting the ball pressure on their guards; some of the turnovers we got were because of our constant ball pressure,” said Weir, who went 14 of 15 at the line, including 8 for 8 in the fourth, as Canisius hit 27 for 33 foul shots.
The Crusaders continue an outstanding start to the month today when they – along with Timon and Niagara Falls – participate in the RAP Invitational at Rochester’s East High. There the three top 10 News large schools will face outstanding teams from Section V (Rochester area). Canisius, ranked third in the state in Class A, meets Fairport, ranked second in the state in Class AA, at 5:15. Niagara Falls, fourth in the state in Class AA and Western New York’s top-ranked large school, meets Section V’s No. 2 large school in Webster Schroeder at 7, while Timon meets host East at 8:45.
“We can’t wait – it’s another great team,” said Husband. “The next few weeks are going to be fun. It’s great to be part of it. We’ll enjoy this for a half hour and we’ll get ready for Fairport.”
Canisius had 16 field goals Friday, five of them three-pointers. Timon was 11 of 15 at the line and had four threes among its 18 field goals.
Timon played without junior standout Donte Williams, the team’s leading scorer, who is out with a knee injury; coach Joe Mihalics said he will miss today’s game as well.
The Tigers received excellent contributions from senior Demone Harris (22 points, mostly inside), senior Manny Welch (18 including three three-pointers) and sophomore Derick Simpson (13 from inside and out).
Weir scored 14 of Canisius’ 19 points in the first quarter, which the Crusaders led, 19-14. Timon stayed within four at half (33-29) and after three quarters (49-45).
Go to the Prep Talk blog for PrepTalkTV’s behind-the-scenes look at Canisius’ pregame speech, along with highlights, interviews and a live blog. There will be live blogging from all three games of today’s RAP Invitational at East High as well.