There will be plenty of time ahead for Kieran Burrier to help the Holy Cross boys basketball team in games from start to finish.
For now, the versatile freshman is perfecting the role of sixth man at the most important time of the season.
Burrier did not start, but he clearly was one of the leaders when Holy Cross won the District 2 Class 2A title March 4 and when the Crusaders opened the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament with a win March 11.
In the district championship game, Burrier provided a boost during a game in which Holy Cross was already taking control.
When the state playoffs opened, his role was more essential with the Crusaders struggling early.
When 6-foot-6 senior center Malachi Phillips went to the bench for the rest of the first half after picking up two fouls in the first 2:04, Burrier went to work early.
Burrier led the Crusaders in scoring in each of their two most recent playoff wins, was their second-leading rebounder, was a significant part of a defense that turned in two straight impressive efforts and also did some setting up of teammates when not scoring.
One of many JB Hoops players still alive in the state tournament, Burrier has not let waiting his turn limit his production in the postseason.
“It’s been a new thing for me,” Burrier said. “I kind of like being the sixth man because I get to see how the game’s going.
“When I get in there, I can make a difference and get things started and help my team.”
Burrier helps the team from many positions. He can play off guard or either forward spot. He can play tough perimeter defense and help out inside. And, even though the 5-foot-10 program listing may be a bit generous, he is one of the reasons Holy Cross rebounds better than a team its size probably should.
In the 52-35 state tournament win over Shenandoah Valley at North Pocono, Burrier scored 18 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 3 assists. He played 27:05 in which the Crusaders outscored the Blue Devils, 52-29. They were outscored, 6-0, in the 4:55 Burrier did not play.
Against Mountain View in a 46-18 district championship game win at Mohegan Sun Arena, Burrier led all players with 14 points and 5 steals while also grabbing 9 rebounds. The team’s offensive production went up with 36 points in the 23:44 he played, compared to 9 in the 8:16 he was sitting out.
“These were two of the best games I’ve played this year,” said Burrier, who has been efficient with his scoring chances, shooting 11-for-18 in the last two games.
During his time on the bench, Burrier watches how the games is developing as it applies to what’s going on at multiple positions.
“It’s been a new thing for me,” said Burrier, who pictures off guard as the position that is most likely to fit him best in the long run. “I’ve played just about everywhere.”
The West Scranton resident attended All Saints Academy prior to enrolling at the Dunmore private school as a freshman.
Burrier is one of two JB Hoops players who are prominent on the Holy Cross team that is scheduled to face the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team, Constitution from Philadelphia, Thursday night at 7 at Whitehall in a second-round state game.
Tommy Montefour, a 6-foot sophomore, starts at forward. He hit his first three shots and finished with six points and two assists against Shenandoah Valley after making the last three while scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in the district final.