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Countdown to St. Joe's vs. Canisius

Neither team is ranked in The News large school poll for the first time in a long time.

The likely response from the throng packed into Canisius High's auditorium-turned-basketball court on Sunday would be, "so what?"

The ultimate throw-out-the-records rivalry in Buffalo has its first basketball incarnation of this season on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. when St. Joe's plays at Canisius. Actually, the varsity game is the third round of a a rival-rific tripleheader. The teams' freshmen teams meet at 1:30 p.m. and the JV teams square off at 3.

For those heading to the game, the Canisius site has some useful information concerning parking.

One year I parked on Elmwood Ave. because that's as close as I could get.

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For those who can't make inside, fire up your laptops.

St. Joe's does a Internet radio broadcast of every game, while I'll be doing a live blog from courtside (actually, probably a few feet above the court on the auditorium stage).

Like I said in my live chat earlier this week, Canisius is definitely the favorite based on the way they've been playing lately, while St. Joe's has shown some inconsistency. That's why I voted Canisius 10th in this week's large school poll while St. Joe's hasn't received any votes.

But when it comes to this league this season, and this rivalry in any season, a build-up like that often leads to a storyline that ends up pointing the other way.

Last year Canisius seniors Justin Young and Anthony Ragusa started a regular-season sweep of St. Joe's with a gratifying 75-58 win on Kenmore Ave. in January, then won at home in February, 70-57.

However, come the postseason, it was throw-out-the-records time as the Marauders knocked off the Crusaders, 78-68, in the semifinals on their way to a storybook 20th Manhattan Cup title.

Sunday's games will close a very emotional weekend for the Delaware Ave. school, which lost a beloved alum in former president Rev. James P. Higgins, who died suddenly Tuesday after suffering a heart attack.

Higgins was the driving force behind the acquisition of land that became the school's outdoor athletic complex in West Seneca, which opened last spring; he also led a campus expansion -- which will include a new field house -- that is scheduled to be completed by next school year. The funeral for Higgins is 10 a.m. this morning at St. Michael Catholic Church, 651 Washington St. 

---Keith McShea


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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN |