Hello from St. Joe's, which is as packed as it can be for the first edition of the rivalry game between the host Marauders and Canisius.
4:10 p.m. We have 11 minutes left counting down until game time as the JV game just finished up. Normally we don't pay JV scores much mind, but with these two schools it probably takes on more importance -- Canisius won the game, 52-42.
We got into the building only after somehow getting through a crowd outside the back door, then tapping against the glass and putting our Buffalo News ID badge against the window. The doors were locked with signs reading "Sold Out!" on the windows. That is something I have never seen before in about a decade of covering these games.
I snapped a picture -- hey, it was newsworthy (I can't take credit for the idea; centercourt suggested it as I was settling in). Hopefully those fans were able to find a spot (there were fans from both schools out there, just FYI). It is very much standing room only at all corners here. The area behind a basket which opens to an auxiliary gym has people filling it as well.
I always wondered why St. Joe's, when it redid its gym a few years back, didn't make it at least a little bit bigger. For the biggest games of the season, the gym maxes out. The coziness makes for a great environment and a great home court advantage, but I've always thought it could be just a little bit bigger.
And that's not just because I'm sitting on a chair precariously set on a platform behind the scorer's table. :-) I've got enough room to see the game and a chair to type in from time to time, so I'm good.
4:22 p.m. St. Joe's is conducting senior night and has started ceremonies honoring their seniors and their parents.
4:44 p.m. WOW. After one quarter, Canisius leads St. Joe's, 29-5. Blair Helton has been outstanding. Meanwhile, St. Joe's can't buy a basket.
Canisius fans tauting their hosts big-time: "Just-like-hock-ey!" (5-0 win in the teams' first meeting); "Let's-play-foot-ball!" [Canisius won Monsignor Martin title].
5:03 p.m. At halftime, Canisius has a 41-26 lead at St. Joe's. The Marauders started getting some shots to fall and, at 15, this could become a game in the second half. The Crusaders have played several games where they have big leads and teams get back into them (Niagara Falls, Timon).
Helton was certainly en fuego in the first quarter, in which he had at least one three and was unstoppable on some drives to the basket. After converting several drives, he also had some great passes to set up baskets for teammates.
St. Joe's started the game with great energy coming off the senior day ceremony, and then one of those seniors who was in the starting lineup -- Kevin Schwartz -- hit a three-pointer to a huge roar from the home crowd. That made the score 6-3, and two Brian Killeen free throws made it 6-5 with 5:22 left in the first quarter. Then Helton led a 23-0 charge to the break by Canisius. Extremely impressive.
Canisius obviously looks very comfortable, while St. Joe's -- like the other night in its loss at St. Francis -- doesn't look like it is in very much of a flow.
5:27 p.m. There does not appear to be a comeback on the way. Canisius continued playing just good, solid basketball while St. Joe's continues to look out of sorts. After the third quarter, Canisius leads at St. Joe's, 64-39.
5:38 p.m. With 4:19 left, Canisius has an 80-47 lead on St. Joe's.
5:45 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Canisius 89, St. Joe's 52.
Canisius fans and the team with the "I believe that we have won!" celebration chant on the St. Joe's court.
6:03 p.m. Just completed interviews with the coaches as well as Blair Helton.
I'm kicking myself for not having the phone going more early on to get more videos -- Helton was literally scoring too quickly with so many spectacular plays that I couldn't keep up.
I'm headed to One News Plaza to write the story for tomorrow's paper and I'll have videos up later on.
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Good win for the Vikings and much-needed after it went down in its last three games against top-flight teams. This week is loaded with great matchups. I'm sitting down to plan out the week right now.
Speaking of, a programming note: East Aurora hosts Cheektowaga in an ECIC III makeup game Monday night.
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Here are reactions from Canisius:
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Here's my story for Monday's paper -- the lede (newspaper term for the start of the story) might seem familiar to the beginning of this post.
taggedBasketball | Canisius | St. Joe's | Video