BUFFALO — Adam Weir entered Saturday afternoon's rivalry showdown with St. Joe's at 996 points for his career, and after eight minutes of play he wasn't a single point closer.
However, it didn't take long in the second for him to get on track, going over the 1,000-point plateau mid-way through the second quarter. He scored eight of his team-high 22 points in the second, leading the Crusaders to a 77-65 win in front of a sold out Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College.
After the game, Weir, from Tonawanda, could barely find the words to describe his feelings.
"It was awesome," he said. "To have all these coaches, my parents and all my family there to support me is just great stuff."
The Marauders (11-2, 2-1 MMAA) jumped out to a 13-8 advantage after the first quarter, and St. Joe's coach Mark Simon said his players were prepared to play and were comfortable because of their familiarity with the Crusaders (8-4, 3-0 MMAA) and what they run.
In the second quarter, Weir and company started to push the pace. Jamel Mosley recorded three blocks in under a minute at one point in the frame and Canisius looked to run at every opportunity. The easy baskets that St. Joe's was getting inside in the first quarter Canisius started to convert in the second.
Then disaster struck the Marauders.
The St. Joe's starting backcourt — guards Jaylen Morris and Jordan Glover — collided while tracking down a loose ball with just under four minutes to play in the second. They both had to leave the game and were unable to return.
Simon said that both players will be tested to see if either suffered a concussion and said the decision on whether to put them back in the game was made with their physical health in mind.
"Health is the most important thing. It's sad, you never can plan for that," he said. "We talked about what we would do if we ever had to play without the two of them, what we would do. We actually learned tonight. They're a big part of what we do and it was evident, especially when we struggled bringing the ball up at times, but what are you going to do."
Simon said that he believed that both players have suffered "bad concussions" in the past, so the team was extra precautious.
The Marauders looked like a different team when Glover and Morris weren't on the court. They started to turn the ball over a bit more and were outscored 21-6 in the second. The rest of the game was spent in comeback-mode, and whenever St. Joe's went on a run somebody from Canisius made a a big shot or play to swing the momentum back in their direction.
Most of the time the person making the plays was Weir. Canisius coach Kyle Husband was thrilled for his senior after the game and said he's going to miss him when he goes on to play at Canisius College next season.
"Adam is a special kid. He's a great kid and he works his tale off all year round," Husband said. "He's a pleasure to be around. I don't even want to think about not coaching him. To be able to (go over 1,000 points) here, on this stage, just means that much more."
Matt MacDonald also had a big offensive game for the Crusaders, finishing with 21 points.
For St. Joe's, Mark Cerza led the way with a game-high 23 points and Louis Oliveri scored 21 points. Oliveri became the No. 1 target of the Canisius defense once the starting guards went out of the game, but he continued to attack and try to shoulder the scoring load for the Marauders. Cerza scored 21 points in the second half and Simon was pleased with the way his team battled even after going down big in the last two quarters.
"I think everybody that played in the second half gave everything they got," he said. "When we're struggling to score that's usually the best thing for Louis and Cerza because they're the best when they can put it on the floor and go to the basket. ... We made enough plays to make it close. I think round two will be interesting."
Contact Tonawanda News sports editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.