Canisius makes a statement with rout of Williamsville South
The Canisius High School boys basketball team is widely-regarded as the best in Western New York this season. The Crusaders showed why on Friday night in front of a full house in their home gym.
In what was expected to be a marquee matchup, Canisius came out firing from start to finish, rolling to a surprisingly-easy 80-51 win over Williamsville South in the first round of the Tom Keenan Memorial Tournament.
“When we’re playing our game, we feel like that (result) is always a possibility,” Canisius senior Nick MacDonald said. “When we’re on and we’re playing our game, playing good defense and moving the ball around, that’s always a good thing for us.”
The Crusaders couldn’t miss from 3-point range in the first quarter, jumping out to a 24-7 lead midway through and a 27-13 lead after eight minutes. The lead grew to 47-23 by halftime and then Canisius started the third quarter on a 9-0 run.
“When we make shots like that I think we’ll be a special team,” Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. “We obviously know that’s not going to happen night in and night out and we still need to clean a lot of things up. Especially that first half thought our guys played real well, for it being the first game of the season. I’m excited to see what this team brings.”
Canisius will play New York City’s Nazareth – a 56-35 winner over Rochester-area power Aquinas in Friday’s other semi – at 3:30 p.m. today in the tourney’s championship game. The Billies will play the Irish at 2 p.m. in the consolation game.
The Crusaders were able to watch part of the first semifinal to get a look at their next opponent.
“We watched some of their game, they’re a pretty good team,” Canisius senior Austin James said. “They’re good on defense with that zone. But I think we have the better team.”
James was worth the price of admission all by himself. He scored 23 points – including five 3-pointers and two dunks – and netted 18 of those points in the first half as the Crusaders seized control.
“He is a terrific player but a really, really special player with the ball in his hands,” Husband said. “You saw that tonight.”
MacDonald hit five 3-ponters in the contest – including three in the decisive first quarter – en route to 17 points. James and MacDonald hit a combined seven treys in the opening eight minutes. Jayce Johnson added 13 points for the Crusaders.
“Coming into to the game we we’re prepared after a month of practices,” James said. “I think we’re the last team to start so we were ready.”
Senior standout guard Greg Dolan scored a game-best 25 points for Williamsville South.