Crusaders Take Home First Lynett Crown Since 2008

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Members of the Lynett Tournament title-winning Holy Cross Men’s Basketball team include, front row, from left: T.J Liuzzo, Adam Mariotti, Kieran Burrier, David Romanski, T.J. Callejas, Caleb Callejas, Sean Kennedy, Hayden Hosie, David Mariotti and John Hartridge. Middle row, same order: Coaches Corey Joyce, Rob Heyen, Tim Callejas, Al Callejas, Kyler Kovaleski, Mike Zayac and Al Callejas Jr. Back row: Tyler Mendicino, Jack Allardyce, Joe Osborne, Leahy O’Connor, Jajuan Nicholls, Pat Bennie, Jalik Nicholls, Angelo Norella, Will Kittrell, Doug Walsh, James Calciano and Logan Aldrich.

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.

holy cross lynett calljas

Caleb Callejas was named MVP of this year’s Lynett Tournament.

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. 

Athlete of the Month: Kieran Burrier

Kieran Burrier, athleteBy Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross senior guard Kieran Burrier is known for his scrappy and clutch performance on the basketball court.

And it was his hustling and confident style that helped lead his team to its first Lynett Memorial Basketball Tournament title since 2008.

Burrier, 18, led the Crusaders with 22 points and added seven assists and six rebounds in his team’s Lynett Tournament semifinal win, 61-58, over Scranton Friday, December 27, at the Lackawanna College Student Union.

But it was in the Lynett Tournament final Sunday, December 29, at the Lackawanna Student Union that Burrier came up with his biggest clutch play. 

With the scored knotted 54-54, Scranton Prep had the basketball in the closing seconds. A Prep shot caromed off the backboard towards the Cavalier bench. 

“I felt no one was going to get that ball, but me,” Burrier said. 

And he did. The senior stalwart corralled the basketball by the Prep bench and was fouled with close to one second left. Burrier made his foul shot as the Crusaders took a 55-54 lead. He let his next free throw attempt roll of the rim forcing Prep to take a full court shot which missed. The Crusaders had a 55-54 win and the Lynett title, unseating Prep and its six-year run.

Burrier scored 13 points plus added six assists and five rebounds in the title win. Caleb Callejas led the Crusaders with 23 points.

Son of Danielle and Shawon Burrier, Kieran’s brother Braden, 21, played football at Scranton Prep and is currently a student at Marywood University. Braden also was a very good basketball player in various youth leagues. 

Kieran has 996 career points at press time and is expected to score his 1,000th career point in a home game against Old Forge, Tuesday, January 7. 

He is averaging over 13 points and close to five assists per game this season.

The senior stalwart has an impressive 3.7 academic average and is a member of the National Honor Society at Holy Cross. 

The scholar-athlete is a four-year member of the Holy Cross basketball team and said he will study pharmacy at Wilkes University next year. He added that basketball at Wilkes is a possibility.

He talked about what it takes to excel at the guard position in high school basketball. “You need to be scrappy and aggressive,” Kieran said. “That’s how I play the game. You also need to be a good play maker and have a high basketball IQ. You need to know what to do with the ball.”

Always a battler on the court, Kieran said it was a great feeling winning the Lynett Tournament. “I played with and against many of the guys on Prep’s team, so it was a special feeling beating them. They were the champions for the past six years, so it is a big thrill beating them in my senior year. We gave our all and finished with a feeling of elation.”

Kieran said he has learned a lot from veteran Holy Cross basketball coach Al Callejas. “He stresses discipline, respect and hard work. Respect others and always work very hard.”

The scrappy guard said his parents taught him something very simple, but meaningful. “Just to be myself everyday.”

Kieran, whose best academic subjects are math and chemistry, said he enjoys listening to music and would like see rapper Post Malone in concert.

He talked about the reason for his team’s success thus far this season. “It it because of coaching, preparation and focusing on playing together as a team.”

And his future goals? “I want to help this basketball team win the league and district title and then go as far as possible in the states. I want to help our team improve game by game. Then I want to go on in college and become a pharmacist. I will keep playing basketball if I can.” 

Callejas and Burrier Lead Crusaders to Third Straight District Title

basketballBy Steve Svetovich

Caleb Callejas and Kieran Burrier combined for 24 points to lead the Holy Cross Crusaders to its third straight District 2 Class AA title, 46-25, over Northwest Saturday, March 2.

Callejas scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and Burrier added 11 points and three steals in the district title game played at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

It was the seventh district championship for Holy Cross (20-5) coached by veteran Al Callejas.

The Crusaders enter the PIAA state playoffs for a 12th straight season and will face Bloomsburg, the third place team from District 4.

Northwest got off to a slow start scoring only four points in the first quarter against a tough Holy Cross defense. And those four points came in the first two minutes of the game.

The Crusaders got hot towards the end of the first quarter. Callejas hit two clutch 3-pointers as Holy Cross scored the final 11 points of the first quarter building a 13-4 lead. The Crusaders never looked back.


Crusader basketball team at Mohegan Sun press conference(Photo Credit: Holy Cross High School Facebook Page)

Burrier then took charge in the second quarter. He scored five of his 11 points. Tyler Mozeleski added added four more points for the Crusaders as Holy Cross built a 22-10 advantage.

Callejas hit on a jump shot and another 3-pointer in the third quarter as the Crusaders built a nice 27-10 lead.

Shortly after, Callejas hit two free throws and Leahy O’Connor and Burrier both scored as the Crusaders lead grew to 33-11 with four minutes left.

The Crusaders forced six turnovers in the third quarter while allowing only one field goal. Walker Yaple led Northwest (15-10) with 10 points. The Crusaders’ Tommy Montefour added six points, including a lay-up and tip-in at the buzzer to end the third quarter.

Holy Cross easily defeated Lackawanna Trail, 55-28, in the district semifinal contest at the Insalaco Arena at Marywood University Saturday, February 23.

Mozeleski had a huge game scoring 16 points and O’Connor added 12 to lead the Crusaders in the district semifinal win over Trail.

The multi talented Montefour added seven points, hauled down six rebounds and had three steals in the semifinal win.

The scrappy Burrier had six points and five assists. James Calciano added six points on two 3-pointers. Patrick Bennie added five points for the Crusaders.

Defense was the name of the game for Holy Cross as the Crusaders did not allow one player from Trail to score in double figures. Richard Helbing led Lackawanna Trail with nine points.