By Jon Gagnon
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The St. Joe's basketball team, looking to be the first squad to knock off Canisius in Monsignor Martin play this season, centered its attention on Crusaders senior Adam Weir.
The Tonawanda product was the difference-maker in the first clash between the two large-school powers, and the Marauders knew they would have to slow Weir down to be successful.
They accomplished that goal through the first three periods, but Crusaders speedy point guard Aaron White picked up the slack, scoring all 19 of his points in the first 24 minutes.
Weir took things from there and put on a show in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his game-high 21 points to lead Canisius to a 72-60 win over St. Joe's in front of a sold out crowd at Canisius College's Koessler Athletic Center.
“(Weir) is the best player in Western New York,” said Canisius coach Kyle Husband. “He shows it game in and game out and he certainly showed it in the fourth quarter.”
Canisius proved early to be the dominant team as St. Joe’s spent most of the game playing catch up. The Marauders took their first lead since the opening minute on a Mark Cerza off balance layup mid-way through the third quarter, but that would be their final advantage.
White snapped a 15-6 St. Joe's run with a 3-pointer and then closed out the third quarter with a tough left-handed layup and drew the foul. He converted the free throw to put CHS up 55-51 after three periods.
In the fourth, it was Weir’s turn, who was forced to sit out much of the third due to foul trouble. He came alive after St. Joe's closed to 60-58, and led his team on a 12-2 run to finish the game.
Weir said Canisius lost its focus after a quick start but was happy with the way the team responded.
“In a rivalry game its always going to be close,” Weir said. “We lost our focus a little bit in the second quarter and the start of the third but we just tightened up our game.”
The Crusaders opened up the second quarter on a 17-4 run, giving them a 17-point advantage. Their lead was trimmed to eight by the time the half ended, in large part because of Dylan Hall, who scored eight of the Marauders' next nine points.
“I thought they were out-working us a little bit in the first quarter,” said St. Joe’s coach Mark Simon. “The third quarter was the complete opposite, we came out a different team. If we cut that lead in half I knew we could make a game out of it."
Hall led the way for the Marauders with a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds – both team-highs.
“Every night (Dylan) has been consistent, dependable, he leads us in most categories,” Simon said. “And he’s been getting better the last couple weeks.”
Only five players put their mark in the scoring column for St. Joe’s. Louis Oliveri, the Marauders' leading scorer, had 13 and Jaylen Morris had 11. The Crusaders came up with big shots at the right times. They knocked down seven 3-pointers compared to just three for St. Joe’s.
“It was a tough loss but they came back fighting a few times after going down 17 points, I’m proud of the effort, we didn’t fold our tent,” Simon said. “Canisius just made a few more plays than we did, they shot the ball pretty good. Seven 3's was the difference.”Contact the Tonawanda News sports department at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find us on Twitter @tonanewssports.