Frannies Upsets Park in Double OT
You might’ve thought that the game was over when Park had a 19 point lead at the half, but St. Francis had other ideas.
“Don’t back down, they’re not the big bad wolf”, St. Francis Head Coach Brian Ferris told his team at halftime. “We take care of the ball, we’re going to be back in this game.”
In an important Monsignor Martin Boys Basketball matchup, the Red Raiders didn’t back down and came back to upset the No. 1 state ranked Class A team, the Park Pioneers 70-66 in double overtime.
Junior Devon Darrell just transferred into St. Francis this year, and boy they must be glad to have him especially after hitting some key three-pointers. Darrell started and completed the St. Francis comeback and finished off the Pioneers.
“He’s great for us”, Ferris said. “We really have two point guards on the floor with him and Julian (Cunningham), it a great luxury to have.”
Darrell had 14 points and hit all four of his free throw attempts.
St. Francis got going in the third when Darrell hit a three-pointer. The Red Raiders used that momentum to go on a 12-0 run in about two and half minutes. The run helped closed the 19 point deficit at the half to two points at the end of the third quarter.
Park got back on their feet to start the fourth going on a 6-0 run, but the momentum swung back to the Frannies when senior Roburt Welch came up with a steal and then was fouled. Welch hit both of his free throws to get his team within six with five minutes left.
Cunningham followed that up with a step back three-pointer and then Connor Cummings made a layup to make the score 52-51 Park, before the Pioneers called a timeout.
Cunningham had a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the win.
Despite his great performance, the sophomore guard pointed out that without strong play from the guys on the front the court it, he wouldn’t have been able to be successful.
“The key was that our bigs boxed their bigs out”, Cunningham said. “Without that we would’ve had a heck of night.”
One of those guys in the front court was junior Bo Sireika, who had 14 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Darrell completed the comeback when he hit a corner three-pointer with 51.7 seconds left to give the Red Raiders the 54-52 lead, their first of the game.
“When I got the ball I was feeling it, so I let it go”, Darrell said.
But the game was far from over as Park’s Joe Jones made a jumper to bring the game to overtime, tied at 54.
Jones had 15 points and Brandon Smith had 18 points for Park.
Park Head Coach Mike Battaglia left the gym before speaking with the media.
In the first overtime the two sides went back and forth. Darrell made a layup on the fast break thanks to a great steal by Sean Taggart to get the overtime started. Jones then converted a three-point play to give Park a 57-56 lead. Welch came back hitting both of his free throws to give St. Francis back the lead.
Many thought the game was over when Park’s Daniel Scott hit a three-pointer to give his team the 60-58 lead with a minute and a half left in overtime.
Scott lead the Pioneers with 19 points in the losing effort.
But with on the next possession, Taggart grabbed an offensive rebound and completed the put back to send the game to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, St. Francis came out on fire scoring six straight points.
It was Darrell who put the final dragger in for the win, hitting two free throws.
“We stuck in”, Darrell stated. “We battled on the boards and played excellent defense.”
“This is huge for us, I told these guys not to be intimidated by anybody”, Ferris said. “In the second half, they came out with a fire.”
For Park, Wednesday’s game is the first Monsignor Martin loss this season.
The win is big for St. Francis. Not only did the Red Raiders take down No. 1 State ranked Park, according to their coach they also have a new-found confidence, after a tough loss to Canisius (a team whom Park beat) last Thursday.
“It proves to the players that what we’ve been telling them all along is that they are that good”, Ferris said. “We can play with anybody and we know it.”
“Everyone better watch out”, Cunningham warned.
St. Francis will be back in action on Friday as they head to St. Joe’s for a 7pm tipoff. Park will host Christian Central Academy on Saturday at 2:30pm.
*All rankings based on Jan. 17 Boys Basketball rankings from Newyorksportswriters.org