With less than eight minutes to play, Canisius found itself down 11 and staring at an 0-2 start in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association.
But the Crusaders aren’t the defending Manhattan Cup champs by accident. Canisius showed the poise and heart of a champion and rallied for a big-time win.
The Crusaders battled back into the game and then made enough free throws down the stretch to earn a hard-fought 73-69 MMAA win over Bishop Timon on Friday night.
“There was a lot of time left in the game,” said Canisius senior Shane Cercone, whose free throws with 1:02 put his team ahead to stay. “Coach kept saying just play your basketball so we just focused on one possession at a time.”
In a game of runs, it looked like Canisius had things under control by halftime with a 12-2 second-quarter run. But the Tigers and red-hot Jaiden Harrison had other views and responded with a 31-point third quarter. When Harrison drained another three to start the fourth, Timon was up by double figures.
“They had an unbelievable third quarter,” Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. “We had to match that intensity in the fourth. We hit a couple shots early and then it became a free throw game and we made enough of them. We’re learning still and we just had to keep fighting possession after possession. We hung our heads a little bit too much in the third and I think that hurt us. But we rebounded in the fourth.”
Harrison was worth the price of admission alone with 31 points. He scored 16 points in the third quarter, including four 3-pointers and added 12 more in the fourth.
“He can really shoot the ball,” Cercone said. “That was part of ur game plan coming in to try to contain him a little bit but great players are hard to stop.”
Cercone had the answer for the Crusaders. He scored 16 of his team-high 29 points in the decisive fourth quarter.
“That was a fun game being able to battle like that,” he said. “But our whole team locked in and was able to follow the game plan. We played real hard tonight.”
Luke Granto scored 18 points for Canisius (3-1, 1-1 MMAA) and Nicholas Purdie added 13.
Jacob Humphrey did the early lifting for the Tigers, scoring 18 of his 22 points in the first half to keep his team in the game. Malachi Parker added 10 for Timon (3-1, 0-1).
The early season showdown was also a rematch of last year’s Manhattan Cup championship game, also won by the Crusaders.
“Definitely a tough game,” Granto said. “We knew coming in it was going to be tough one, we were going to have to grind it out. I’m just glad to get the W, wins like that are big.”
It was also a small measure of redemption for Canisius, which was coming off a rare loss to arch-rival St. Joe’s.
“It was not fun losing to St. Joe’s on Tuesday but it’s great to be back on track,” Granto said.
Leave a Reply