By Mike Longo Jr.
Hershey, Pennsylvania is affectionately known as the "Sweetest Place On Earth". That makes perfect sense. After all, it is home to The Hershey Chocolate Factory.
The Bishop Canevin Boys basketball team will agree, then again whatever the venue maybe, in their minds it'll be the "Sweetest Place On Earth". It's Canevin Catholic’s first-ever trip to the state championship game.
Elk County Catholic was the latest victim falling to Bishop Canevin 47-21 in the PIAA Class A State Playoffs Semi-Finals on March 18. With that victory, Canevin’s winning streak reached 17 straight games. The team’s PIAA run two years ago was cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak and the state tournament was canceled. Last year the coronavirus reared its ugly head once again as the Crusaders were forced to forfeit ending the playoff run one more time.
Shut down the last two years, this year’s team had extra incentive to show people what they could do. Elk County Catholic found that out first hand in the semi-final matchup, and the Crusader’s road to Hershey is still intact.
Canevin’s Kai Spears hit the first shot of the game, a three-pointer and they never lost the lead. Elk County attempted to disrupt Canevin’s usual fast-paced offense by slowing the ball down, chewing up time off the clock and meticulously looking for an open shot. That philosophy failed miserably as the Crusaders tightened defense. Elk County felt the pressure being held to just five first-quarter points trailing by 7, 12-5.
The Crusader’s pressure in-your-face defense only allowed their opponent to four points in the second quarter as they built their lead to 23-9 at the intermission. The third quarter didn't bode any better for Elk County Catholic as they could only muster another four-point effort. Bishop Canevin on the other hand dropped in 17 points and the lead mounted to 27 with a lead of 40-13.
The final stanza of the game saw Elk County outscoring Bishop Canevin by the slimmest of margins 8-7. It was a moot point in an out-of-control game as the Crusaders waltzed away with a 47-21 victory. Shea Champine and Amari Evans chipped in six points each while Kai Spears and RJ Sledge added five points each.
Bishop Canevin's season is alive and well, with just one more roadblock, St. John Neumann. The Crusaders are hoping for "Sweet" win number 18 at the venue in "The Sweetest Place On Earth".