The Canisius High School bench erupted at every score and with encouragement on every possession, motivating the Crusaders to an 87-31 win Tuesday night over Nichols.
A pregame ceremony in the Bernard J. Kennedy Field House which honored Canisius seniors Jihad Almadrahi '20, Dewayne Vass '20, Eric Kegler '20, Kaleb Cox-Harris '20 and Ishmael Fairclough '20 inspired the Crusaders to put up impressive offensive and defensive efforts en route to the blowout Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association win.
“Some of these guys have been with me for the past two-and-a-half, three years. To see them play their last home game is bittersweet but tonight’s performance is a testament to how hard they have worked,” said Canisius head coach Kyle Husband '96. “When the bench is loud and cheering like it was tonight, I know we are going to have a good game.”
It was an important game as the Crusaders (16-3) needed to rebound from consecutive upset losses to Bishop Timon/St. Jude and Health Sciences Charter School.
“It was very important to get the big win tonight,” said Husband. “It starts in practice. You can’t just turn it on and off. If you want to be great at something you have to have the toughness to work hard and get through.”
The Crusaders started the game off hot. Jihad Almadrahi scored the first points with a three-point shot in the opening minutes. He scored seven of Canisius’ first quarter points to help spark a 19-2 first quarter run. Dewayne Vass put an exclamation point on the run, slamming home a powerful highlight dunk with 1:39 remaining in the first. Vass led the Crusaders with 11 total points as 13 different players scored in the lopsided win.
Joseph Ciocca '21 led the Crusaders in the second, hitting a deep three from just in front of the center court logo for three of his eight points. The Crusaders defense, led by Kegler with two second quarter blocks, stifled the Vikings. Nichols mustered only nine first-half points as the Crusaders took off with a 35-point lead.
“We had a good day at practice yesterday. Everyone put everything into it and we made the improvements we needed to make,” said Kegler. “It was bittersweet out there on the court tonight, playing our last regular season home game.”
The Crusaders came out of the locker room hyped for the second half. Vass drained a shot from three-point range as part of his five-point third quarter that fueled the Crusader’s to increase their lead. Canisius dominant defense and effective ball movement led them on a 24-7 third quarter run.
David Barbara '21, in a reserve roll, provided the spark in the fourth, adding six points on two shots from deep. Barbara finished with eight points for the game. Malik Jamison '21 added 10 points in the game, leading the reserves in total points to help seal the win.
Next up for the Crusaders is a match Friday at the home of their rivals on Kenmore Avenue, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. The Crusaders edged the Marauders in their first matchup, 61-57.
This story was composed by two incoming Canisius freshmen who have enrolled into the Canisius class of 2024. Sam Ferguson and Mark Kadiev attended the Canisius High School Sports Reporter Night where they learned to conduct interviews and structure sports-themed stories from Canisius recruitment and marketing manager Levi Trimble and student-journalist Steven Czarnecki ’21.