Class A Semifinals
(2) St. Francis 66, (3) Park 64
After two epic overtime battles during the regular season, the Red Raiders and Pioneers treated MMA fans to a spectacular encore performance at Villa Maria College in the series trilogy for the right to advance to the 2017 Manhattan Cup Final. This time, St. Francis won a thriller in regulation to reach the championship game for the first time in 10 seasons.
"It's exciting and hard to put into words," St. Francis coach Brian Ferris said. "We said at the end of the season that we wanted to play six more games and we needed this one to get there."
Bo Sireika scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the first half, as St. Francis built a double figure lead early on and took a seven-point lead to the break. The Red Raiders remained in control for most of the third quarter, until a 6-0 finish for Park cut the deficit to 51-48. The Pioneers took their first lead since the opening frame with a 7-0 spurt early in the final stanza, capped by a powerful put back flush from Joe Jones. That set the stage for an intense finish that came right down to the final possession, with Park missing a potential game-tying shot as time ran out. Roburt Welch (18 points) and Julian Cunningham (11 points) were both key to Red Raiders hanging on in the game's final crucial moments.
"Our guys have been through it with them and our guys responded," said Ferris. "It was like a heavyweight match and we had the last punch."
Noah Hutchins led Park with a game-high 22 points, while Jones had 18 points, with 12 coming in the second half.
St. Francis, now one win from a Manhattan Cup Championship, will need to dethrone the defending champions from Canisius, who have dominated the league over the last decade.
"I don't think we'd have it any other way," Ferris said. "If we're going to take it away, we've got to beat them."
Park 11 - 19 - 18 - 16 = 64
St. Francis 17 - 20 - 14 - 15 = 66
St. Francis: Bo Sireika 20, Roburt Welch 18, Julian Cunningham 11, Sean Taggart 7, Connor Cummings 6, Lucas Theisan 3, Devon Darrell 1
Park: Noah Hutchins 22, Joe Jones 18, Brandon Smith 11, Marques Lowe 5, Jaylen Stewart 4, Quentin Nnagbo 2, Dan Scott 2
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(4) Canisius 65, (1) Timon 61
For the eighth time in nine seasons, the Crusaders are headed to the Manhattan Cup Final, 0nly this season, the defending champions took a longer route to get there. Canisius needed to play its way in to the semifinal round this season, but once they got there, they did what Canisius does...advance. After dropping both regular season contests to the number one seed from Timon, the Crusaders came into the postseason as underdogs.
"I'm glad that people are counting us out, we've got a lot of character in that room," Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. "I'm proud of the guys, they worked through a lot of adversity this entire season and today they really worked hard for 32 minutes."
A tightly contested battle of top WNY large schools played out for four quarters, with 14 lead changes and seven ties. It was a game perhaps best described as one where every possession felt tense and critical to the outcome.
"We wanted to be smart with our possessions and not give them points," said Husband.
Five Crusaders scored in double figures, with each taking turns stepping up in big moments of the game. Colby Moultrie led the team with 16 points, while Nick MacDonald and Jayce Johnson each netted 11 points. Ryan Bradley had 10 points in the game, but it was his late-game heroics that will be remembered when this game is recalled years down the road.
With Timon coming up the floor needing a bucket to tie or a trey to win in the final seconds, Bradley picked the ball handler and then swung a pass to sophomore Joe Jamison for a basket to seal the victory. Jamison was a major spark off the bench for Canisius and scored six of his 12 points during a heated fourth quarter.
"I can't say enough," Husband said. "For a sophomore...he was a man out there, Joe Jamison was impressive out there."
Juston Johnson finished with a game-high 22 points for Timon and collected 11 of those in the fourth quarter. Joe Harrison scored 13 of his 18 points in the third stanza, and Davion Warren added 12 points for the Tigers.
Canisius will face St. Francis in the Manhattan Cup Final at the Canisius College Koessler Center on Wednesday night at 8:05 pm.
Canisius 16 - 12 - 22 - 15 = 65
Timon 15 - 11 - 22 - 13 = 61
Canisius: Colby Moultrie 16, Joe Jamison 12, Nick MacDonald 11, Jayce Johnson 11, Ryan Bradley 10, Jake Zeis 3, Brendan Trapper 2
Timon: Juston Johnson 22, Joe Harrison 18, Davion Warren 12, Adrian Baugh 5, Master Radford 4
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Class B Semifinals
(3) Nichols 59, (2) Cardinal O'Hara 40
For a fourth straight season, Nichols will play for a Manhattan Cup. The Vikings, who won the Class A title in 2014 and finished as runners-up in 2015, were the champions last season in Class B and now return to the final game again this season under first year head coach Darren Fenn.
After a close game throughout the first half, Nichols ended the second quarter by scoring the last five points to take a one-point lead to the break. The Vikings defense allowed just eight points in the second frame with a 2-3 zone that blanketed the Hawks. They would be even better defensively in the second half.
"We try to be active, take away any sort of fast break, and make them run a half court offense," Nichols coach Darren Fenn said.
The Vikings defense was brilliant over the final 16 minutes of play, allowing just two field goals and only 12 points. Meanwhile, their offense remained consistently productive, scoring 15 points in each of the last two frames. Myles Hervey was a force inside throughout, finishing his shots, hitting the boards, and defending. Hervey scored a game-high 18 points, while fellow senior leader Will Johnson came through with 17 points in the win.
"Myles played probably the best game of his life tonight doing everything we know he can do and Will was outstanding as usual," Fenn said.
Freshman Aidan Horan added 12 points in the win, including a seven-point stretch in the third quarter and Nichols began pulling away from the Hawks.
Torree Cheatham led O'Hara with 10 points, while senior Rene Velazquez scored six points in his final action with the team.
Nichols 17 - 12 - 15 - 15 = 59
O'Hara 20 - 8 - 5 - 7 = 40
Nichols: Myles Hervey 18, Will Johnson 17, Aidan Horan 12, Trent Banaszak 10, Ontario Jones 2
O'Hara: Torree Cheatham 10, Nas Benton 7, Jermaine Haynes 7, Justin Hemphill 7, Rene Velasquez 6, Brandon Broadnax 3
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(1) St. Mary's 62, (4) Walsh 46
The Lancers won three of four quarters and never trailed in the game, eliminating the Eagles and advancing to the Manhattan Cup Final in Class B. The team's depth was on full display from the beginning, as St. Mary's led by double figures before the end of the opening quarter.
"Everyday it seems like we have someone new coming in," St. Mary's coach Paul Rath said. "We do have some depth and we don't seem to drop off a whole lot."
Christian Szablewski led the way with a team-high 17 points on a combination of inside scoring and knocking down some jumpers. Daquan Hunt scored eight of his 14 points in the third quarter to keep the Eagles at bay. Matt Ciezki also scored 14 points in the game, with nine of those coming in the final frame.
Tavien Kemp finished with a game-high 25 points, but had to work extremely hard for everything he got, facing two defenders every time he touched the ball. Cameron Kitchen-Perez added 10 points in the loss.
"That was a major focus to contain him as best we can," said Rath.
St. Mary's will face Nichols in the Class B Manhattan Cup Final at the Canisius College Koessler Center on Wednesday night at 6:05 pm.
Walsh 12 - 12 - 9 - 13 = 46
St. Mary's 21 - 11 - 15 - 15 = 62
St. Mary's: Christian Szablewski 17, Daquan Hunt 14, Matt Ciezki 14, Zach Penska 5, Eric Brown 4, Brady O'Brien 4, Jae'lin Russell 2, Greg Poland 2
Walsh: Tavien Kemp 25, Cameron Kitchen-Perez 10, Kameron Ramadhan 6, Latrell Butler-Kemp 5