Seniors send Eustace past Holy Cross
There was a junior sparking the defense and a sophomore at the top of the scoring column.
But this was the seniors' night.
Bishop Eustace beat visiting Holy Cross, 52-36, before a large crowd in the first round of the Non-Public South A boys' basketball tournament on Tuesday night.
Junior guard Flo DaSilva produced five steals and 11 points, and sophomore forward Brandon Cazan muscled inside for a team-high 13 points along with five rebounds for the seventh-seeded Crusaders (18-9).
But from the pregame ceremony with the presentations of framed jerseys, to the four-point play from the athlete known for his defense and dirty work, to the roar from the home crowd when they walked off the court for the last time, this game belonged to Bishop Eustace seniors Tom Falconiero, Ry'n Bland, and Nick Hanuscin.
"They all played hard, and they all played well," Bishop Eustace coach Bob Falconiero, Tom's father, said of his seniors. "They've been such a big part of what we've done here, and it was great to see them go out that way."
Tom Falconiero, a 5-foot-11 guard, collected 11 points, three steals, and two assists. He also was 5 for 5 from the foul line.
"It meant a lot to me, and I know it did to the other guys, too," Tom Falconiero said of his last game. "We had a lot of fans come out for us, and my whole family was here. It was great."
The 6-5 Bland scored seven and teamed with Cazan to help the Crusaders control the paint.
"It was really special," Bland said. "It's kind of like leaving a legacy and to be able to do that with these [other two] guys, it makes it 10 times better."
Hanuscin, a defensive specialist who made a rare start, provided the game's highlight with a four-point play late in the third quarter. He sank a deep jumper, drew a foul, and made the free throw.
"That was definitely nice in my last game," Hanuscin said.
Senior guard Brandon Rowe scored 14 for 10th-seeded Holy Cross (17-8). The Lancers struggled with turnovers against Eustace's pressure defense.
"We had a great year," Holy Cross coach Barry Harper said. "It was a shame we couldn't come in here and execute a little bit better."
Bishop Eustace advances to face second-seeded St. Joseph of Metuchen (22-4), the defending state champion, in Thursday night's second round. St. Joseph is led by 7-0 sophomore Karl Towns Jr. who has committed to Kentucky.
"Defense again," Tom Falconiero said of the game plan. "We have to hold them to a lower amount of points, hopefully the 40s, and try to steal it from them."
Holy Cross 4 9 10 13 – 36
Bishop Eustace 11 9 16 16 – 52
HC: Dan Schmid 6, Greg Kousoulis 2, Dillon Keegan 3, Logan Hill 1, Brian Atkinson 2, Brandon Rowe 14, Chris Campbell 3, Brandon Simmons 2, Jim Hoff 3.
BE: Flo DaSilva 11, Dvonne Trumbo 4, Tom Falconiero 11, Brandon Cazan 13, Ry'n Bland 7, Connor McLaughlin 2, Nick Hanuscin 4.