ALBANY -- High school crowds dig dunks, and Christ the King's star guard, Jon Severe, had a couple of those Saturday night. But what really had the Times Union Center rocking and Long Island Lutheran reeling were his long-range three-pointers.
When Severe pulled up in transition late in the first quarter for what easily was an NBA-range three, the place exploded. Too bad the four overhead scoreboard screens did not have replay capability, because fans were asking each other, "Did he really just shoot it from that far out?''
Yes, he did. And to prove it was no fluke, Severe made another one from at least that far out in the third quarter, when Christ the King outscored Lutheran 19-7 to break open a close game on the way to a 73-64 victory in the Federation Championship Class AA title game.
Severe scored 28 points -- all in the first three quarters, when the Royals needed them most -- including four treys that ranged from long to longer to longest. His outburst came against a team known for stingy defense on the perimeter, backed up in the paint by elite 6-9 shot-blocker Kentan Facey.
"We're a good defensive team, but they had a lot of weapons,'' said Lutheran coach John Buck, whose Crusaders (25-3) won the previous two Federation crowns. Christ the King (28-3) also got 13 points from Malik Harmon and 12 off the bench from Rawle Alkins.
But it was Severe's weekend. The explosive 6-2 senior is being pursued by numerous major Division I colleges and his stock continues to soar after his tournament MVP performance. "We wanted to contain him and make every shot tough,'' said Mical-Ryan Boyd, who scored 19 points and made the all-tournament team with Facey. "But we had some breakdowns on defense, and that hurt us.''
If you call allowing a high school kid to take shots from 25 feet away a breakdown. "When he's making shots like that with the ability to also put it on the floor, that's tough,'' Buck said.
His team is tough, too, so even after Severe's 10 first-quarter points helped build a 19-11 lead, Lutheran responded with a huge second quarter. Facey, a Connecticut-bound senior, had 10 of his 16 points in that quarter, including a crowd-pleasing, one-handed slam from the baseline with his feet spread apart. The Crusaders cut a nine-point deficit to two and went into the break trailing 38-35, thanks to a modest-length three by Severe with 19 seconds left.
But the game got away from LuHi in the third quarter. An 8-0 run to start the second half, punctuated by another NBA-range trey from Severe, made it 46-35. Severe had a breakaway jam off a steal late in the quarter as the Royals took a 57-42 lead into the fourth. They didn't need another point from Severe the rest of the way.
"We couldn't make a shot and we couldn't get stops,'' said Boyd, who politely applauded when Severe was introduced as MVP. "This didn't end the way we wanted it to, but we're going home with our heads held high.''
That's because Buck said there was no shame in losing to Christ the King on Saturday night. "That's a tremendous team,'' he said of the CHSAA champion from Middle Village, Queens. "The best team in the tri-state area, hands down.''