By Steve Svetovich
A clutch Kieran Burrier free throw with one second on the clock was the difference as the Holy Cross Crusaders defeated Scranton Prep, 55-54, Sunday, December 29, to earn its first Lynett Memorial Tournament title since 2008 at the Lackawanna College Student Union.
On his second free throw attempt, the ball danced around the rim and fell down. A Scranton Prep full court shot attempt failed and the Crusaders were victorious.
Senior Caleb Callejas led Holy Cross with 23 points in the title win and was tournament MVP.
Burrier added 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Crusaders.
Holy Cross ended Prep’s six-year reign as tournament champion.
Burrier created the game-winning foul shot opportunity when he corralled a loose ball at the Scranton Prep end of the floor. That sent him to the free throw line with close to one second left.
The Crusaders (7-1 at press time) started slow and were down by as many as 14 points in the first half. Prep’s Robert Rossi scored 12 of his 16 points in the first 16 minutes of the contest.
The Crusaders defense then tightened and Callejas got hot. He hit on his first 3-pointer with 6:31 left in the second quarter to pull the Crusaders within, 20-10. He then connected on his next five shots, including four more 3-pointers. That put Holy Cross within striking distance, down 40-35.
Burrier and Callejas then both hit on 3-point shots that started a 10-1 Holy Cross run and the Crusaders suddenly had a 45-43 lead with 4:33 left in the title game.
Prep’s Rhys Merritt then connected on a 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers a one-point lead.
Then Pat Bennie, who totaled 10 points for Holy Cross, hit a 3-point shot and Callejas followed with a long 3-pointer for a 51-46 Holy Cross lead with 3:04 remaining in the contest.
In the final three minutes, Merritt hit a 3-pointer, Gavin Bednarz connected on two free throws and Michael Skoff had a 3-pointer for Prep. The score was knotted at 54-54 and Prep had the ball.
However, a late shot caromed off the rim and Burrier scurried for the loose ball resulting in his winning foul shot.
Rossi led Prep (6-2 at press time) with 16 points. Merritt added 13 and Skoff scored 10.
Holy Cross defeated Scranton, 61-58, Friday, December 27, in the Lynett Memorial Tournament semifinal game at the Lackawanna College Student Union.
Burrier scored 22 points and added six assists and five rebounds in the win.
The Knights led 54-47 in the fourth quarter, but the Crusaders fought hard to take the lead.
Trailing 56-53, Callejas hit a short runner in the lane and Burrier scored off an offensive rebound.
In the final minute, Callejas, who scored 13 points, hit on all four of his free throws.
Pat Bennie scored 11 points and hauled down 10 rebounds for the Crusaders. Leahy O’Connor added 10 points for Holy Cross. James Calciano added five points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the first quarter.
James Shields led Scranton with 22 points. The Knights played without point guard John Rose for most of the game. Rose was injured.
Holy Cross veteran coach Al Callejas commended his team for its resolve and never quiting.