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Raiders Top Marauders In Thriller

By Dave Ricci

As the old saying goes that’s why they play the game.

Bo Siereika went 2-of-2 from the line to seal the deal as St.Francis, the No.1 ranked large school in WNY, narrowly avoided losing for the second time this week as they beat the Marauders, 59-56, in a wild Friday night game at St. Joe’s that literally went down to the final shot.

Now standing at 11-2 in Monsignor Martin Athletic Association, the Red Raiders remain tied with Bishop-Timon (11-2) for first place.

Timon, who defeated Frannies 60-55 earlier this week, remained in the hunt for first by beating Canisius 63-55.

First place and top-seed in the post season all comes down to Tuesday’s results. St. Francis plays St.Mary’s of Lancaster while Timon plays Walsh.

A tie means co-champions with a coin toss to determine who will be the No.1 seed in the playoffs.

“Like I said to them never complain about a win. Especially in our league,” said Frannies head coach Brian Ferris.

“It doesn’t matter what the records are or what we did last night. I told our guys they’re gym on a Friday night (Joe’s) is gonna come ready to play. Mark Simon is a great coach, does a great job. We were ready to take that punch. I tried to warn them. (We) dung deep and they did what (we) needed to do.”

Casey Kelly hit a shot with 20.1 seconds to help St. Joe’s pull within two, 57-55. Caleb Cockrell went 1-of-2 from the line to cut the deficit to 57-56.

Siereika stepped to the line with 5.6 seconds left in the game and the weight of the world on his shoulders as the Marauders and their fans were making as much noise as possible to get Siereika off his game. To no avail as he calmly drained both shots.

“I shut it out,” Siereika said. “You’ve got to shoot confidently. You can’t let the crowd get in your head. You let the crowd get in your head that’s when you start missing. You’ve just got to drown it out.”

Sirecki’s two points were key as they forced the Marauders to throw up a desperation 3-point attempt that missed the mark as the buzzer went.

Strong play by Caleb Cockrell (20 points) and a couple of second quarter 3’s by Jack Capen (18 points) helped the Marauders take a somewhat surprisingly 21-19 lead into halftime.

Though the Raiders played more complete in the second half, Ferris said the first half was a struggled due to the fact they did not move the ball as well as they normally do.

What Ferris did like was the fact that when finesse wasn’t getting the job done his boys were willing to pay the price by diving on the floor for loose balls and battling for rebounds, collecting 27 as a team.

“We’re a skilled team that likes to play with skill, but when we’ve been tested physically and had to gut it out we’ve done pretty well,” Ferris said. “Timon, on Tuesday, I know it was a loss. But again we shot the ball worse than we did here (tonight) and we gutted back from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit and made it a one possession game. That’s huge for us and huge for their confidence.”

St. Joe’s, which gained a lift from its win over Cardinal O’Hara a couple of days ago, fought every bit as hard for every inch of the court as they almost pulled the upset.

“That’s what we just told them in the locker room. You can’t hang your heads tonight,” Marauders coach Mark Simon said.

“You gave everything you got. They made a few more plays than we did and they won a great ball game.”

The outside shot was definitely a weapon for the Marauders as Cockrell and Capen each hit two, 3-pointers in the fourth as they launched a furious comeback.

The Marauders now await a Feb. 23 playoff match up against rival Canisius. Simon said that as always, record aside, every day of the regular season is done with the mission of prepping for playoffs.

“Absolutely. It took us a long road to find our identity as a team,” Simon said. “We were without Casey (Kelly) for a while. We were without Hunter (Dimitroff) for a while. We never really were able to get the full team together and play some games. The last couple weeks I think we found out who we are. Defensively we’re much better. We’ve just got to keep working.”

Roburt Welch (16 points, four rebounds) had three rather quiet points in the first quarter, but every other shot his made was crucial in that it either tied the game, gave Frannies a lead or helped them extend their lead in the fourth.

Devin Darrell also stepped up big for the Red Raiders with 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds off the bench. Julian Cunningham had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.

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