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Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016: Canisius trips up Class A No. 1 Park

   Leading off today: Well, this certainly throws a monkey wrench into the state rankings in boys Class A basketball -- and confirms that the Monsignor Martin Association tournament in Buffalo could decide the Federation championship long before any school's bus pulls into Albany in March.

   Third-ranked Canisius rode a big second half from 6-foot-7 senior Stafford Trueheart to turn back No. 1 Park School 56-53 before a standing-room-only crowd at Park's Rich Family Activity Center.

   Canisius is the defending Federation Class A champ, and Park has moved up a class after winning the Federation Class B crown last winter.

   Working had on the offensive boards, Trueheart scored 17 of his game-high 28 points (tying a career high) during the second half to help Canisius overcome a 27-25 halftime deficit. The first-half action included a run of 13 straight Park points.

   "We knew we could go after them at the rim," Trueheart, who shot 13 for 18 from the floor and grabbed 18 rebounds, told The Buffalo News. "We wanted it really badly."

   With Canisius trailing 27-14 midway through the second quarter, Trueheart registered back-to-back dunks. With Park up 35-33 in the third quarter, Trueheart's dunk with 2:05 left sparked a 6-0 run that put the Crusaders ahead for good. His three-point play and layup early in the fourth quarter grew the lead to 44-38.

   "He's our backbone," Canisius coach Kyle Husband said. "When he plays like that he's really good. He was awesome tonight."

   More boys basketball: The depth of basketball quality in New York City has probably slipped a bit over the years, but it's undeniable that a team from that city can still carry the label of great despite a ding or two on the win-loss record.

   I was reminded of that Friday when Cardozo, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AA, responded to its first loss of the season by winning a Queens showdown with No. 14 Christ the King 67-65. Aaron Walker's tip-in at the buzzer won it for the Judges before a packed house.

   Cardozo, trying to become the first NYC team to go unbeaten since Canarsie in 1976, had lost a one-pointer to No. 11 Queens High School of Teaching three days earlier and fell behind the Royals by 1 20-6 count a minute into the second quarter. With Ray Salnave and Walker (17 points for the game) paving the way, the Judges scored 25 points in the second quarter to go into halftime tied at 31.

   The Judges led by as many as nine before the Royals tied at 58 with 3:58 left to play. Jared Rivers' layup put Christ the King up 63-62 with a minute left, but Walker answered with a layup. David Cole then made two free throws for Christ the King, followed by Salnave (24 points) going 1-for-2 at the line to tie at 65 with :09 to play.

   With :01 left, Salnave threw a lob inbound pass to Walker that he tipped in ahead of the buzzer.

   Following up: I blogged and tweeted last week about behavior by the Syracuse University athletic department that raised eyebrows and led to Aquinas senior linebacker Taylor Riggins decommitting.

   Riggins quickly picked up several offers, went on a visit to UMass this weekend and announced early Sunday evening that he had committed to that school.

   Short on players, not effort: Newsday had a good weekend follow-up to a recent Long Island girls basketball game that saw Roslyn have to play out the end of the contest with just four players on the court.

   It happened Jan. 15 when junior guard Samantha Busch fouled out against Roosevelt midway through the fourth quarter. It left the Bulldogs -- who began the game with just five healthy players -- to defend a 41-34 lead with only

seniors Samantha Wiebe and Jordan Tullman, sophomore Morgan Davey and freshman Emily Cohen on the floor.

   "Being on the court at that time and realizing there's going to be one person open for them every single time," Tullman said, "you don't expect that to be something that might pop up when you go into a game."

   Coach Noreen Naughton dropped her team into a zone and instructed her girls to play a little farther off the ball than usual.

   "There was a lot of running as fast as we could to whoever had the ball," Tullman said.

   Predictably, though, there was too much time left to exploit the advantage, and Roosevelt rallied for a 44-42 win. Afterward, Roosevelt coach Don Crummell came over to speak to the Roslyn players.

   "You had to kind of acknowledge the mere fact of what they were doing," Crummell said. "Talent wise, are they the best team? Probably not. But man, the way they played together as a unit, the way they played for each other ... They represented high school basketball the way it was meant to be played."

   Extra points: You don't need to be big to get noticed by the right people in basketball. Bishop Loughlin's Markquis Nowell, a 5-foot-7 sophomore, picked up as offer from Virginia Commonwealth last week according to MSG Varsity.

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