The Cardinal O’Hara vs. Canisius matchup in boys basketball has been a lopsided affair for the past twenty-plus years in favor of the Crusaders, and it is believed the last Hawks victory occurred in the early 1990s.
That was until yesterday evening.
In front of a near-capacity crowd, O’Hara took down the Crusaders 70-65 utilizing a balanced scoring effort in Monsignor Martin Athletic Association play at Cardinal O’Hara High School.
“We had a lot of support, I’ve been here eight years and I’ve never seen this kind of support,” said O’Hara coach Tony Pulvirenti. “It’s a huge win for the program, we’re five games in and we’re looking to build off this.”
Canisius came out hot, as they quickly jumped out to a 6-0 lead and finished the first quarter on top 17-11, but then came the Hawks.
After battling back to tie the game in the second quarter, a Justin Hemphill transition slam gave them a small 27-25 advantage. It was an advantage they did not relinquish the rest of the way.
“We had to come into this game with our heads on straight and not lose focus throughout the game, we knew it was going to be a tough one playing against Canisius,” said Hemphill, who led the Hawks with 16 points and moved into second place on the O’Hara all-time scoring list with an early layup.
While O’Hara (5-0, 1-0) never did give the lead back to Canisius, their advantage never grew to more than eight points, as it was just a 52-51 game after three quarters thanks in-part to a long fadeaway jumper by Canisius’ Dwayne Vass in the dying seconds.
The Crusaders (4-1, 0-1) were never out of the game and were constantly threatening, they just could not find the buckets or the stops they needed in crunch time.
“It turned into a little too much of a track meet, we want to play fast but we want to play smart, and we didn’t in the second and third,” said Crusader coach Kyle Husband. “Our effort was not very good, we lost because O’Hara played way harder than we did for three quarters.”
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