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St. Francis basketball drops ADPRO Challenge matinee

A rare morning tilt had St. Francis off its game early and it cost the Red raiders at the ADPRO Sports Holiday Challenge at Canisius High School’s Bernard J. Kennedy Fieldhouse.

St. Francis fell to 1-3 on the season, losing 63-50 to Cheektowaga in the Saturday (Dec. 21) matinee, which was one of four games that day

Junior guard Kordell Holness scored 19 points for St. Francis, while senior forward Trey Holness contributed with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Dave Kennedy added 11 rebounds.

“Eleven o’ clock in the morning is tough to get these guys up and going and it showed,” said St. Francis coach Brian Ferris. “We shot 32 percent from the field and most of them were lay-ups.”

The Warriors were able to bounce back from a disappointing league loss to Lake Shore, 60-55, in which a slow start doomed them, earlier in the week. Cheektowaga was also just one of the two public schools that won its respective public vs. private school matchup over the three-day event. Lancaster was the other public school winner.

“I liked how we fought,” said Cheektowaga coach Pat Cullinan. “We talked about how we’ve got to get an effort for 32 minutes and we came out and played 32 minutes. We didn’t play great for 32 minutes, but we played good enough.”

Dominick Welch paced the Warriors with 19 points and 21 rebounds, finishing at the rim and controlling the glass at 6-foot-2 against a Red Raiders team equipped with 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7 seniors. Zak Ciezki added 18 points and 10 boards.

“We worked hard in practice and wanted to bounce back from the loss we had,” said Welch. “We went harder this game, came out with a little more momentum and got the job done.”

Cheektowaga had control for much of the game, going into the half with a 25-12 advantage behind three Ciezki three-pointers. He finished the game with four from downtown.

Kordell Holness led a surge late in the third quarter to bring St. Francis within 56-50. He scored five points in five seconds when he followed a three-pointer with a steal of the ensuing in-bounds pass and lay-up, but Ciezki, Welch and Patrick Plummer (eight points) were quick to regain their 10-plus point advantage by finishing at the rim.

“I thought we did a good job sharing the ball,” said Cullinan. “Just a nice team win for us.”

The Red Raiders will pay a visit to Williamsville South for the annual Jolly Boys Tournament on Dec. 26-27. St. Francis opens against Amherst at 6 p.m., followed by South and Newfane.

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