ROCHESTER – Saturday may have provided a preview of the finals of the Class AA Far West Regionals in boys basketball. It may have also provided a change in The Buffalo News large school poll.
Niagara Falls, ranked first all season, lost to Webster Schroeder, 74-72, at the RAP Invitational at Rochester’s East High School.
One game earlier, No. 2 large school Canisius used a great start to bolt ahead of Fairport – ranked first in Section V (Rochester area) this week – and post a very impressive, 62-57 victory.
In the third game involving a Western New York top 10 large school, No. 7 Bishop Timon-St. Jude fell to host East, 58-47.
This week’s polls will be published Tuesday, and Canisius (15-3) put a big win on its resume by beating a Fairport team that was also ranked second in the state Class AA poll, two spots ahead of Niagara Falls.
The Crusaders, ranked third in the state Class A poll, got out to a great start, taking a 20-7 lead after one quarter. For the second straight night, Canisius College-bound senior Adam Weir led the Crusaders early, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the first quarter. On Friday, Weir had 14 of his 28 in the first quarter of a 64-59 victory at Timon.
“That first half was awesome,” said Canisius coach Kyle Husband. “We played probably the best ‘D’ we played all year for a consistent period of time, and we executed. We got great looks and we made shots. It makes it a lot more fun when you make shots.”
The Crusaders took a 27-17 halftime lead and built a 50-33 lead in the third. Fairport (15-2) cut the lead to four in the final minute, but junior forward Ryan Richards (eight points) earned a big offensive rebound and was fouled with 37.2 seconds left and he hit two free throws. Senior guard Aaron White (11 points) also had two free throws in the final minute. Fairport hit a three at the buzzer to make it a five-point game. Senior Matt MacDonald also had 11 points for Canisius.
Schroeder (15-1) made it two big wins in two nights thanks to some outstanding offensive execution. The Warriors, ranked second behind Fairport in the Section V large school poll, beat Fairport in double overtime Friday night.
Falls (12-2) was hampered because of the foul trouble by senior standout and Canisius College-signee Jermaine Crumpton. He had just four points and missed significant stretches after picking up two fouls in the first quarter. He had three at the half and picked up his fourth in the third, as Schroeder smartly went right at him out of a timeout to get the fourth foul as 6-6 junior Emitt Holt (24 points) made it a three-point play.
After a close first half, Schroeder took a 54-47 lead after three quarters. Falls rallied behind senior guards Ramir Burton (23 points, three three-pointers) and J.J. Wilkins (21 points, three threes) to tie the game at 60-60 on a Wilkins three with just over four minutes to play.
But Schroeder moved the ball beautifully and hit plenty of open shots, notably by seniors Mitchell Herman (13 points), Justin Maggio (12) and Gunner Blaise (11). The Warriors built a 70-64 lead behind inside baskets by Holt and a three from Blaise. Falls cut it to 70-67 and pressed, but Schroeder smartly beat it as Holt found Blaise for a layup and a five-point lead in the final minute.
“I don’t say this very often, but I think the defensive end was where we lost the game,” said Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino, whose team returns to Rochester today to play another Section V power in Bishop Kearney. “I think they did a great job finding the open man. They shot it well, but we knew they shot it well coming into the game.
“We don’t have a lot of big games, and a guy like Jermaine, he can’t not play in a big game. Not for us to be successful.”
East (7-6) took a 14-8 lead on Timon (10-9) after one quarter, extended it to 29-18 at halftime and was up, 42-36, after three thanks in large part to the playmaking of quick junior guard Dontay Caruthers (26 points). Timon was led by seniors Damone Harris (13 points) and Manny Welch (12).
Go to the Prep Talk blog for interviews, highlights and a live blog from the RAP Invitational as well as a behind-the-scenes look at Husband’s pregame speech before Canisius’ win at Timon Friday night. There will be live blogging from today’s Falls-Kearney game as well.