As memory of stinging end fades, Bishop Canevin boys savor championship season

Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM

A season filled with great joys and a golden high ended with a kick to the gut and a low that just felt so empty.

That was the 2020-2021 season for the Bishop Canevin boys basketball program.

Before focusing on the many outstanding moments, the season came to a sudden end that was difficult to accept.

Moments before the Crusaders were scheduled to take the floor for a PIAA quarterfinal against Berlin-Brothersvalley, they found out a teammate had tested positive for covid-19. For the safety of everybody involved, the Bishop Canevin administration made the tough decision to forfeit the game.

“It was something we were not expecting,” Bishop Canevin coach Gino Palmosina said. “This is the second year in a row we didn’t get a chance to play them in the state quarterfinals. It hurts. It was a very emotional night for all of us. However, this is the world we live in. We are extremely blessed that everyone involved with situation is healthy.”

As the pain of not getting a chance to make a run in the state playoffs fades away, memories of a great regular season and perfect run in the WPIAL postseason takes over for Palmosina and the Crusaders.

“This year was a year like no other; there were so many moving parts,” he said. “I think the thing I’ll remember the most is through this entire season, during a pandemic, to finally win a WPIAL championship just meant so much to our guys. That feeling was something special, and I don’t think anyone in our program will ever forget that.”

Bishop Canevin cruised to a Section 2-A title with a perfect 9-0 section record. The Crusaders entered the Class A open tournament with a 13-5 record and as the No. 1 seed. The WPIAL basketball steering committee was impressed with how Bishop Canevin played a very strong nonsection schedule.

“I think just playing the some of the best programs in the area was awesome,” Palmosina said. “We obviously always want to win every game we play. As a Single-A team, we maybe could have scheduled a lot of other A or 2A teams and had a better record, but we felt that is was in the best interest of program and team to go play as many good programs as possible. So the opportunity to play Fox Chapel, Mt. Lebanon, Quaker Valley, Chartiers Valley and Central Catholic was a lot of fun.”

With some starters missing due to being ineligible because of the PIAA transfer rule, other members of the Crusaders team really stepped it up in wins over St. Joseph’s and Union in the first two district playoff games.

“In the quarterfinals and semifinals, we really leaned on sophomore Shea Champine,” Palmosina said. “He was huge for us. He had 20 points in both of those games. Some of our main scoring options were in foul trouble in both games. We needed someone to step up and he delivered.

“I will also say a lot about senior Nevan Crossey. Nevan is a four-year starter for our program. He is a guy who completely understood his role and did so much for us on the defensive of end. You might not see his name in the box score night to night, but no one does those things better than Nevan does. He will be dearly missed next year.”

The Crusaders faced a Rochester team in the Class A finals that underwent a huge change in the offseason. The Rams went from a one-win season a year ago to being one win from district gold this year.

Bishop Canevin junior Kevaughn Price led the way with 17 points as the Crusaders beat the Rams, 42-27, for the program’s first WPIAL boys basketball championship.

“I think you have to give Rochester a lot of credit for making the game the way it was,” Palmosina said. “However, that being said, we were OK with that. We tried to play that way against a lot of 6A schools we played this year. We love to play up tempo, don’t get me wrong, but on the defensive end, we were OK with them taking long possessions and making them work for every shot they took.”

With a lot of key players back, Palmosina is already excited about next season.

“We bring a lot of talent back,” he said. “We will see how much that talent wants to work, because if they do, we are going to have another crack at it.”

However, for the time being, the coach who bleeds navy and sky blue has plenty of time to reflect on a very special season.

“I would be lying if I said if it didn’t mean something special to me. As a kid, I was a ball boy for this program, I played for this program, and now I’m coaching this program,” Palmosina said. “Canevin has been a big part of my life. To finally win one is awesome. I am extremely fortunate to have an incredible staff and such a great group of kids that worked so hard to get us that title.”


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