Cornell knocks off Bishop Canevin and punches its ticket to The Pete

Monday, February 24, 2020 | 10:33 PM

The Cornell Raiders have been working towards a goal for the past three years.

Centered around a trio of seniors – Kaden DiVito, Isaiah Langston and Zaier Harrison – the Raiders wanted to make a trip to the Petersen Events Center and compete for a WPIAL championship. On Monday, after three years of losing in the playoffs and two straight of losing in the semifinals, the trio finally completed their goal.

Led by a dominant 23-point performance from Langston and 13 apiece from both Harrison and DiVito, the No. 3 Raiders (18-6) knocked off No. 2 Bishop Canevin (18-6), 68-47 to punch their ticket to The Pete.

“This honestly feels so great,” Langston said. “It feels like we’ve worked so hard for this and to finally get it done. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m so happy.”

The two teams portrayed heavyweight fighters throughout the first quarter as both looked to implement their style of play on the game. The Crusaders tried to slow it down to counteract Cornell’s high-paced offense, while the Raiders applied heavy pressure to speed it up.

The first eight minutes was filled with ebbs and flows. The Raiders had a balanced scoring attack from Harrison, Langston and DiVito and Blaine Sams hit two 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer. But, the Crusaders countered with KeVaugn Price who scored 11 of their first 14 points.

Thanks to Sams’ 3-pointer, the Raiders held a one-point lead after the first quarter, 15-14.

“We were trying to slow it down as much as possible and be patient on offense,” Bishop Canevin coach Gino Palmosina said. “They (Cornell) just get up and down so fast and they put so much pressure on the ball, it’s difficult to slow it down. So, you gotta give credit to them on the defensive end.”

The second quarter was much of the same for both teams, but about midway through Langston started to take over. He isolated his defender on several occasions for easy buckets at the rim and ended up scoring 10 of his 23 points to help the Raiders build a 32-29 lead going into halftime.

“I was just going through the game and was trying to make opportunities for myself and for my teammates,” Langston said. “I just had that mindset the whole game and I feel like that’s why we won.”

After halftime, the pendulum started swaying towards the Raiders as they completely took over the game.

The Raiders started the second half with a 9-2 run as the whole team fired on all cylinders. Langston hit a layup in the lane, DiVito added a pair of contested layups and Harrison hit a big three.

In just under four minutes, the Raiders had built a 10-point lead and they never looked back.

“We kind of lost our perspective (in the first half),” Cornell coach Bill Sacco said. “We’re a transition team and we want to beat them down and not let their defense get set. When we were able to do that we picked up a lot of gaps that we got through and we got to the basket. I think that opened up the game for us.”

The fourth quarter was just as lopsided as the Raiders started to pour it on. Harrison hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then Langston stepped into one at the top of the key. But the nail in the coffin was when Langston poked a ball away and threw it down for a dunk at the other end.

“That was the punctuation point, I just had to,” Langston said. “I felt good and I was feeling it. I rose up and it went in.”

Now, the Raiders will get a matchup with No. 1 Vincentian Academy (20-4) 7 p.m. Thursday at the Petersen Events Center. Vincentian Academy knocked the Raiders out the past two years and they have a little payback on their mind.

“Revenge tour, that’s all that’s on my mind right now,” DiVito said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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