By CLAUDE SCILLEY
In their manhandling of the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers Thursday night, the Holy Cross Crusaders got a couple of particularly inspiring performances. One came from a source you might expect: Luciano Troiano, a second-year senior who is one of the more gifted players in the league.
The other might not have been quite so easily predicted. Roddy Kimmerer’s name hasn’t generally come up in conversations about Holy Cross basketball this year, unless you’re talking about who goes into the game when the first half dozen or so guys get tired.
Yet there the two disparate Crusaders were, before an overflow crowd in the Jesuit Gym at Regi, each playing an important role in the Crusaders’ 71-39 win over Regi in the 28th annual Memorial game—Troiani dropping three-point shots like they were nickels in a wishing well, and Kimmerer coming off the bench to deliver a spirited defensive performance and a not too shabby 14 points of his own.
In addition to the tangible contributions of double-digit scoring, Troiani and Kimmerer characterized what Holy Cross coach Alf DeMelo said was the over-riding element of the decisive victory.
“They played as a unit for the first time this year and it showed” DeMelo said. “They knew what their roles were and they stayed within those roles.
“Luciano was unbelievable tonight. That’s the best game I’ve seen him play. He attacked the basket with a purpose, really hard. He was able to find his shot, but he defended effectively, too. He was all over the place in the beginning and that made a big difference. He was blocking shots, he was moving his feet well, he was defending with his hands, he ran the floor well.
"He just stayed composed.”
Troiani finished with a game-best 23 points, 12 of which came in the second quarter when the Crusaders scored 25 to turn a seven-point ball game into 41-14 halftime lead.
Kimmerer, who came off the bench to score 10 points in the first half, helped to fill a void recently created when Justin Lafrance suffered a separated shoulder.
“We were a little worried about matchups,” DeMelo said, “but he played amazing. I talked to him about his role and not having to hit the outside shot and just to focus defensively, and he gave us a boost. He gave us so much energy, and then it just carried over on his offence.”
DeMelo described Kimmerer as athletic, a trait he can trace, at least in part, to his training as a dancer. “He’ll practise with us and he’ll run to a two-hour dance session.” The coach also described his player as a hard worker.
“He was about ninth on our depth chart,” DeMelo said, “but we have a lot of guys who are battling; the lineup changes. We keep track of who’s working hard at practice, and in tournaments, and he put himself right back into the mix again.”
For the second game in a row, Regi was victim of a slow start. Stuck at three points for the longest time in the first quarter, the Panthers got a three-point basket from Allan Wang in the closing moments of the period to draw within seven points of the Crusaders, at 16-9.
Alas, Regi wouldn’t score again until Eli Deluzio hit a pair of free throws at 4:13 of the second quarter, by which time Holy Cross had pulled ahead 25-11. The Crusaders turned the game into a rout by scoring 12 straight points to end the half.
“We had some great ball movement going inside and out,” DeMelo said. “We were able to find guys and we were able to hit shots. Everything fed off of our defence. The intensity was there and we never lost composure. That was the big difference.”
The Crusaders did foul a lot, though, as the game turned chippy. One of Regi’s failings, however, was its inability to take advantage of those opportunities: As the Holy Cross lead grew in the second quarter, the Panthers were 3-for-10 from the free throw line.
It was but one of the areas where Regi struggled.
“It was a great night for the Memorial; it wasn’t such a great night for us,” Panthers coach Ed Kenney lamented.
“When you sit down at the start of the year, and you say, ‘What kind of kids do we have,’ we said we won’t have a hard time scoring … but tonight we had a hard time scoring. What do they have, five guys taller than our tallest kid? We didn’t rebound emotionally.
“We have to spread the floor, we have to have longer possessions in the half court, and we try to play fast any time the game’s in the full court. Our margin for error is small; in the last two games, we’re not doing a very good job with the errors.”
Kenney said he hopes this year’s Memorial game serves as a different omen than the one last year.
“Last year we played our best basketball in January. We played very well in this game," he said, "but we didn’t play very well in February. We only played one playoff game.
“It’s a tough season, but it’s only January.”
With the win, Holy Cross improved to 6-0 and moved into a first-place tie with the idle Kingston Blues. In doing so, the Crusaders got double-digit scoring from two other players—Clay Taylor, whose 12 points included three three-point baskets in the first half, and Sam Pierson, who was confined to the bench in foul trouble for much of the first half, but ended the game with 13 points, eight of them in the fourth quarter.
Regi, which began the week undefeated but ended it just a game over .500 at 3-2, got seven points from Allan Wang and six apiece from Dylan Medeiros and Deluzio. Testament to the Panthers’ size disadvantage was their paltry seven two-point field goals.
Events surrounding the game, played in memory of former Regi students Peter Carty and Paul Halligan, both young victims of cancer, raised about $7,000, making it the most successful Memorial in several years. In its history, the event has raised almost $350,000 for cancer research and patient support.
In other Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior boys basketball games Thursday, the Frontenac Falcons took sole possession of third place with a 56-35 win over the visiting Napanee Golden Hawks, and the La Salle Black Knights gained their first win of the year, a 56-28 home-court victory over the Bayridge Blazers.