They play as teammates during the summer, but on Saturday they were looking at each other from opposite benches.
By the time the final seconds ticked off the clock, it was Ryan Richards of Canisius who got the better of Wil Bathurst of Olean, as the Crusaders won, 67-49, in the final game of the AD PRO Sports Public/Private Challenge before an estimated 800 fans at Canisius High.
The Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in The News poll among large schools, improved to 5-0 while the No. 1 small school Huskies (4-1) suffered their first loss.
Richards and Bathhurst led their respective teams in scoring. Richards had 19 points and 10 rebounds while Bathurst had 21 points on 9-of-23 shooting from the floor.
“Wil and I are friends so this was kind of competitive between us,” said Richards, who guarded Bathurst when his team played man-for-man defense. “He’s different from any other player. He’s like slow motion. Everything is so smooth. He likes break you down and he’s tricky with finishing around the rim.”
Canisius led 13-10 after the first quarter and 29-24 at halftime. LaTerrance Reed (14 points, six blocks) gave Canisius the lead for good at 7-6 when he made three straight free throws.
The Crusaders grabbed the game’s momentum for good in the third quarter using tip-ins and putbacks to build a 50-36 lead.
“Our guys were very focused at that point of the game,” said Canisius coach Kyle Husband. “We don’t shoot the ball quite like we have in the past, we need transition points, we need second-chance points, we did a great job passing the ball up the floor today and all the guys, who are very athletic, did a great job of crashing the glass. That was probably the difference.”
Stafford Trueheart of Canisius grabbed 16 rebounds and had 10 points, including a thunderous dunk on a perfect ally-oop pass from Howard Washington. Washington added 13 points and eight boards. Michael Keenehan handed out eight assists. Turnovers were pretty even as Canisius had 16 and Olean 15.
Olean was slowed by 29 percent shooting and by Bathurst being the only consistent scorer.
“We gave up several offensive putbacks and that really hurt us,” said Olean coach Jeff Anastasia. “When Sam” Eckstrom “went down and Nick” Schmidt “went out with two fouls early I think Wil felt he had to put the team on his shoulders. And he’s the type of guy who can do that. What happens is people start watching instead of doing. We needed some movement, to get into our motion offense, make Canisisus play a little defense, and we never really did that.”
The Public/Private Challenge included nine games played over three days with the Private Schools winning seven times. Private school winners were Niagara Catholic, Nichols, Cardinal O’Hara, St. Mary’s, Timon-St. Jude, St. Joe’s and Canisius. Public school winners were Lancaster and Cheektowaga.