Bishop Canevin boys hope to continue historic season with deep playoff run

Thursday, February 13, 2020 | 5:28 PM

There probably aren’t many people as invested in the Bishop Canevin boys basketball program as second-year coach Geno Palmosina. He was a ballboy for the Crusaders in his youth, then played for them as a high-schooler.

So being able to hang a 2020 section championship banner in the gym was special. Going through the section unbeaten for the first time in the program’s existence was historic.

Just don’t get the idea Palmosina — or his team — is satisfied.

The Crusaders (17-5, 12-0 Section 2-A) got the No. 2 seed for the WPIAL Class A playoffs and a bye in the first round. They will face the winner of the Feb. 15 Monessen-Union matchup.

“We’re, obviously, talented enough to accomplish some of the goals we wanted to achieve,” Palmosina said. “We still have a long way to go, but I feel we’re headed in the right direction.”

One of the biggest differences between this season’s team and the one that lost in the first round of the playoffs last season is its ability to win big games. Monessen, a Section 2 foe, is a prime example. The Crusaders lost twice to the Greyhounds last season, including one game they led going into the fourth quarter, but beat them twice this season.

“Since we beat them twice, it gave us a bigger jump as to what we could do,” 6-foot-4 junior swingman Dom Elliott said. “When it comes down to the final seconds, you have to be ready to play.”

Elliott has been one of the catalysts behind the Crusaders’ surge. He always was able to use his height to get points, but he has extended his shooting range, making him harder for opponents to guard.

He is averaging 18 points as well as double-digit rebounds.

“Elliott has put a ton of time in,” Palmosina said. “I don’t think he missed an offseason workout since the end of last year. He has molded himself into a multi-threat scorer.”

The maturation of point guard KeVaughn Price also has been key. A sophomore, Price, Palmosina said, is just beginning to blossom as a player.

“I always knew he was going to be a great player,” Palmosina said, “but I didn’t think it would happen this fast. His game has totally elevated in every possible facet.”

Price averages 16 points and runs an offense that, Palmosina said, is valuing the ball more. The Crusaders’ offense is predicated on moving the ball quickly but also staying under control in order to get quality shots.

With the majority of the players having been together under Palmosina’s system last season, Price said he believes that has helped everyone take a step forward.

“I think we have better chemistry and click together better as a group,” he said. “We have worked on the little things. Geno always tells us to go out there and play our game, so we definitely are out there playing more freely.”

The question is: Have the Crusaders grown enough to make a deep run in the playoffs?

Regardless of their postseason fate, the Crusaders are positioned for a bright future, with the majority of the core players back next season. And when they come back, they will be able to see that new “section champion” banner gracing the gym wall.

As much as that accomplishment means to a program lifer such as Palmosina, he said he was more excited for the players.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the team,” he said. “I am so happy for our guys. They have put in so much work at this point … this group of guys deserves it.”


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