The Kennedy Catholic Gaels had a crack at a CHSAA Class A State Championship in a Saturday afternoon clash with Canisius at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gymnasium.
The Gaels scratched and clawed but a 28-point scoring outburst from Canisius’ LaTerrance Reed was too much for Kennedy to overcome. Canisius beat Kennedy 65-55 in a game that aired live on MSGVarsity.
“They’re a good team and they’re very well coached. They deserve it today,” Gaels coach Al Morales Jr. said. “No excuses on our end. They were just a better team in the end.”
Morales may not be one for excuses but nothing seemed to be going the Gaels' way.
Sean Delaney started off hot, scoring eight points in the first quarter as Kennedy led 11-10. Things took a turn for the worse quickly as Delaney picked up his third foul and was forced to sit for the final 4:36 of the second quarter.
“The foul trouble had a big impact,” Morales Jr. said. “It changed our strategy, but they had some foul trouble to deal with too.”
Elijah Hughes, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, had spent the last few days trying to get over a bug.
“Elijah wasn’t feeling well. He spent the last 48 hours in bed with a fever,” Morales Jr. said. “They all did the best they could with what they had. But there are no excuses.”
Hughes finished with 15 points.
Dominick Cristiano played an outstanding game for Kennedy as well. Cristiano scored 19 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and swatted a pair of shots.
The junior center came up with a put back jam that would’ve made DeAndre Jordan blush.
In the end, it was Reed’s quick jumper that did Kennedy in. The Gaels trailed 40-36 entering the fourth quarter but Reed sank three trifectas in the fourth to propel his Crusaders to a state title.
“We expect him to do that,” Crusaders guard Joshua Huffman said. “[Reed] is our playmaker. He’s the best player in our league. That just what he does every game. We look for him to have big games and that’s what he did today.”
Reed’s 28 points came on 8 of 15 shooting from the floor and an outstanding 6 of 8 from behind the arc.
“I think I was rushing my shot a little bit in the first half,” Reed said. “In the second half [Delaney] was in foul trouble so I had some more room. My guys found me in great spots. Great coaching and great teammates, that’s all that was.”
Despite the loss, Kennedy Catholic has plenty to be proud of and hopeful for. The Gaels came into this game with an impressive record of 26-2 and return four starters.
“This is a dream come true season for a coach,” Morales Jr. said. “I told them don’t get down for one game. They’ve done more than an average high school player has done. I’m super proud of them.”