ALBANY -- - ALBANY -- What a contrast Friday night's game was to Long Island Lutheran's performance all season. This basketball team, for several stretches, was almost unrecognizable.
They had key players in foul trouble. They, perhaps, were rusty, having not played a game in three weeks. They shot 29 percent from the field.
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They also won.
Boogie Brozoski and Katie Lavelle each scored 14 points as the Crusaders overcame a sub-par start and held off Francis Lewis, 53-42, in a Federation Class AA semifinal.
"We showed some resiliency," Lutheran coach Rich Slater said. "I trust them to respond in critical situations, and they did that."
The Crusaders had to withstand several charges from the Patriots. And each time Francis Lewis drew close, Lutheran delivered a figurative stiff arm.
"We were not losing this game," said Brozoski, who hit 6 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter before fouling out with 12 seconds remaining. "We've been in these tight situations before, so we know how to handle them."
Lutheran (22-2) actually hadn't been in a jam in some time. Entering this contest, the Crusaders had dominated their previous 11 games by an average margin of 23.9 points. This was the proverbial gut check.
The Patriots pulled within 28-27 with 2:36 left in the third. Six seconds later, Brozoski answered with a three. Francis Lewis (24-4) cut the lead to two late in the third, and LuHi went on a 5-0 run, capped by Grace Stone's jumper.
Sierra Green's three got the Patriots within 36-34 with 7:15 remaining in the fourth. And, of course, Lutheran responded: Lavelle, off a feed from Erin Storck, scooped a layup 10 seconds later. Chi La Bady scored 11 points for Francis Lewis.
"It was an ugly game," said Nani Redford, who had five points and eight rebounds, in addition to solid perimeter defense. "It took us longer than we would've liked to start executing, but we're not the kind of team that panics."
Evelyn Omemmah had eight points and 11 rebounds and Erin Storck had five points and 10 boards for LuHi.
The Crusaders, seeking their first Class AA title, face Ossining in the final at 6:45 Saturday night. Lutheran has won two "A" championships in the previous three years.
"I think we'd be the first Long Island team to win in both classes, so we're looking to make history here," Brozoski said. "However we do it, as long as we get it done."
Survive and advance.