Elliott handles pressure, shoots Bishop Canevin boys past Union

Thursday, February 20, 2020 | 11:48 PM

Dom Elliott was honest about what was going through his mind in as he toed the line for two foul shots with five seconds remaining and Bishop Canevin trailing by one.

“It was thinking about a lot,” he said. “I was thinking about my team, because my team is my family. I was thinking about Nate Kirsch because he is our only senior, and he means a lot to us, and he impacts us as team, and I wanted to win it for him.”

On the outside, Elliott displayed a composed demeanor and swished both free throws to propel the second-seeded Crusaders a 40-39 win over No. 10 Union in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals Thursday at Hampton.

Elliott was sidelined for an extended period in the second half due to having blood on his shorts but returned with four minutes remaining. He got an offensive rebound off a miss and was fouled during a scramble underneath the basket, setting the stage for the game-winning free throws.

“He’s grown up so much in the last three months so much as a leader, and I am just so proud of him,” Bishop Canevin coach Gino Palmosina said. “To make those two free throws is a tough thing to do as a 16-year-old kid.”

Union got one final look when Matthew Stanley ran the floor in four seconds and heaved a shot from beside the Scotties bench, but it was off the mark.

“When it left his hand, I thought he had the bank,” Union coach Mark Stanley said. “That was about the best we could hope for. He got the best look he could.”

The Crusaders (17-5) advanced to play No. 3 Cornell in the semifinals Monday. Union (14-9) advances to the state playoffs if Bishop Canevin wins.

Elliott’s free throws finished off five lead changes in the final two minutes.

Bishop Canevin trailed by seven midway through the fourth, but a basket by Avery off a rebound capped an 8-0 run that gave the Crusaders a 35-34 lead. Union responded with a basket from Nick Pasquarello.

KeVaughn Price answered with a bucket and went 1 of 2 from the line to give the Crusaders a two-point lead, but Vince Fuleno sank a 3-pointer with two players in his face to put Union back on top.

The Scotties led for the majority of the game and controlled the boards but failed on numerous occasions to capitalize inside on offensive rebounds.

On Bishop Canevin’s final possession, the Crusaders got four offensive rebounds before Elliot was fouled.

“We struggle at times with (converting offensive rebounds),” Mark Stanley said. “No different tonight. You’ve got to make those. Then it came down to one defensive rebound. We need one rebound and they are going to have to foul us.”

Matthew Stanley led Union with 14 points. Price had 13 for the Crusaders.

Neither team led by more than seven points, and there were a dozen lead changes.

“It was a great high school basketball game,” Mark Stanley said. “We came out on the losing end of it, but Elliott stepped up and hit those shots. That’s not any easy thing to do. It was nothing but net on both.”

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game at Trib HSSN.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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