Battling down low with two future Division I players, Canisius sophomore center Stafford Trueheart earned MVP honors as the Canisius basketball team beat Nazareth of Brooklyn, 44-38, in overtime to win the Eighth Annual Tom Keenan Memorial Classic.
The 6-foot-6 Trueheart led the Crusaders in points with 15, rebounds with seven and five blocked shots. Trueheart had to contend with Nazareth’s 6-8 Samson Akilo and 6-4 Samson Usilo, both of whom have signed with Manhattan.
“He battled with their bigs all game and got those 15 points, it really made a difference because we really didn’t shoot well from the outside, so we were looking to get the ball inside,” Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. “He played a great all-around game.”
The event is named for Keenan, a colorful coach of the Crusaders who died 10 years ago today at the age of 51. Keenan coached Canisius for 10 years, including the last three while undergoing cancer treatments.
Not only was the game a rematch of last year’s Keenan final, it was also a rematch of last year’s New York State Catholic Class A final, won by Nazareth. That too was a low-scoring game.
“They want to score a little off transition, but they slow you down and want you to take tough shots,” Husband said. “Our final last year was 44-40. They’re so big and athletic they can make it tough for you. Defensively today I thought we executed great. We want to lock people down, that’s the identity we want to have.”
Canisius outscored the visitors, 9-3, in the overtime, getting five of their points from the free-throw line.
Orchard Park overcame an early two-goal deficit to beat Canisius, 4-3, at the Northtowns Center. Canisius took a 2-0 lead just three minutes into the game, but before the first period ended, OP tied it on goals from Zach Biasillo and Rob Zwirecki.
“We kind of took a time out and took a deep breath,” said OP coach Derek Gilham. “We made a couple of bad mistakes, the kids dug down, we were missing a couple players because of injury. Some other guys got some extra ice time and they took advantage of it.”
Kevin McParlane scored and Tim Duffy cashed in on a power play shot from the point to give OP a 4-2 lead after two periods. Canisius’ Zach Grace scored on a penalty shot with 2:30 left for the game’s final goal.
• Forward Mike O’Rourke scored the tying goal with 7 minutes left in regulation and game-winner three minutes into overtime as Frontier beat Timon/St. Jude, 4-3, to win the Batavia Holiday Tournament for the third year in a row. Jim Gleason had the assist on the goal in OT. Jared Compise had a goal and an assist for the Falcons (3-2). Earning all-tourney were O’Rourke, Gleason, Connor Harman and Mike Hughes. Batavia beat Amherst in the consolation, 6-3.
Trevor Pray and Ryan Zier had one goal and one assist each as Kenmore East moved to 4-0 with a 3-2 win over Grand Island.