Canisius boys basketball coach Kyle Husband said this team was different than the previous four teams with which he won the Manhattan Cup.
His previous four Manhattan Cup championship teams – in 2005, '09, '11 and '12 – failed to get past the semifinals of the Catholic state basketball tournament. On Saturday, however, a new chapter was written.
Behind its three standout seniors, Adam Weir, Matt MacDonald and Aaron White – who’ve endured semifinal losses the past two years – Canisius rolled to the Class A Catholic state finals with an 84-66 win over Nassau-Suffolk Catholic champion Chaminade in the Crusaders’ home gym.
“They knew they had more to do and they showed that today,” Husband said. “They were awesome.”
The trio combined for 63 points with Weir leading the way with 27 – 14 of which came in the second quarter. The Canisius College-bound swing guard scored seven points in the final four minutes of the second quarter when the Crusaders went on a 13-6 run to finish the half after the score was tied at 30.
“I was hitting shots and Aaron was making good passes to me,” Weir said. “It’s pretty easy when it’s like that.”
White put the exclamation point on the first half when he shook his defender off the dribble then buried a long jumper to make the score 43-36 at halftime.
White, who was named Manhattan Cup MVP, scored 17 points on the afternoon and let his swagger show in front of the packed Bernard J. Kennedy Field House. White leaned back and posed with his follow-through on most of his six made jumpers, which fired up the large student section.
“He’s a heck of a player,” MacDonald said of White. “When he plays like that – distributing the ball and making shots like that – we’re tough to beat and it’s been like that all year.”
In the second half, the Crusaders defense clamped down on Chaminade forwards Michael Walsh and Jon Patterson. After scoring a combined 41 points in Chaminade’s last game, Walsh and Patterson were limited to 30 on Saturday and only scored 12 points in the second half.
Canisius forced 18 turnovers on the game.
Husband recognized Ryan Richards and 6-foot-8 Jamel Mosley for defending Chaminade’s talented bigs, but the overall man-to-man tired out the Flyers, which enabled Canisius to continue to extend its lead to 80-59 with three minutes left.
Thomas Ahearn scored 16 points for Chaminade, which made it to the Catholic state semis for the first time since 2008.
Also for Canisius, which hit 11 three-pointers, MacDonald scored 19 points on four three-pointers and by shooting 7 of 8 from the line, while Mosley scored 12.
The Crusaders move on to play Nazareth High School from Brooklyn at Fordham University for the Catholic state title next week. The Crusaders beat Nazareth, 64-54, back in December.
“It should be a good challenge and we’re excited to go down to New York and have some fun,” MacDonald said.