ALBANY -- Long Island Lutheran for three?
The Crusaders, who won the Federation tournament the previous two years in Class A, will go for a three-peat Saturday nightagainst Christ the King -- this time in Class AA -- after Friday night's 73-55 win over Lincoln.
They definitely brought their A-plus game on defense. Not only was Kentan Facey a force inside with 10 blocks, but Tim Quashie did a solid job on Railsplitters junior guard Isaiah Whitehead, who drew Kentucky coach John Calipari to a courtside seat.
Connecticut-bound senior center Facey had a triple-double with 19 points, 15 rebounds and the 10 blocks. Mical-Ryan Boyd had 14 points, sophomore point guard Chris Atkinson played a terrific floor game and scored 13, and Quashie also had 13.
Facey said of his 10 blocks: "That was part of our game plan, to have our guards play as aggressively as they can knowing there was help." (Facey, of course, was the help.)
Coach John Buck said of Facey: "He's pretty special, isn't he? Wow! A triple-double and he didn't start out well offensively. He makes me look good. I just tell my guards to pressure the ball. He's a tremendous player and he executed his will as the game went on."
Whitehead scored 21 points but was not a factor in the second half as LuHi pulled away.
Buck said of the job Quashie did on Whitehead: "Tim is our best on-ball defender. We tried to deny him [Whitehead] and push him to certain areas on the court. You try to take away some tendencies, but you're never really going to stop him."
Boyd began the second half with a corner three and also contributed a breakaway layup. Facey scored eight points, including the last six of the period, and helped the Crusaders build a 47-35 lead heading into the fourth.
Another key factor was the ballhandling skills of Atkinson. It's almost impossible to successfully press the Crusaders because he is so swift and so skilled with the ball. He doesn't have to score to put his stamp on a game, though he did drain three from downtown.
Lutheran took a 10-4 lead after a quarter as Facey's presence discouraged Lincoln. He had three first-quarter blocks, and Quashie (seven first-half points) and Boyd held Whitehead scoreless.
Whitehead and Lincoln came alive in the second quarter, much to the delight of Calipari, who sat in the first row behind the press table scouting numerous players in the night doubleheader but, most prominently, Whitehead.
After Facey's two free throws made it 28-20 with 1:11 left, Whitehead scored the final six points of the half.
Atkinson sank three one-handed set shots from beyond the arc in the first half, including one as the shot clock was winding down that was so long the courtside announcer exclaimed, "Atkinson from North Pearl Street!" The Times Union Center is on South Pearl. Atkinson & Company made it their oyster last nightFriday night