Katie Lavelle, teammates step up as Long Island Lutheran tops St. Mary's

Long Island Lutheran's Katie Lavelle passes the ball

Long Island Lutheran's Katie Lavelle passes the ball down low during their game against Nazareth in the state Federation Class A girls basketball semifinal on March 22, 2013 in Albany. Photo Credit: Pat Orr

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Long Island Lutheran won decisively in another marquee girls basketball matchup Sunday, and -- brace yourselves -- Boogie Brozoski wasn't the key factor.

The Crusaders beat St. Mary's, 56-45, in a non-league showdown between what arguably are Long Island's best girls teams. Even more impressive, Lutheran did it with Brozoski on the bench in the second half for all but four minutes.

"It says that when people think about LuHi, it's not Boogie Brozoski, it's the team," said the reigning Long Island Player of the Year, who was limited because of four early fouls and had 12 points, including four free throws in the final 43 seconds. "It takes more than one person to succeed; it takes a team."

And it's quite a team they have.

Erin Storck scored 11 points, seven of which came during a third-quarter run that gave Lutheran control after Brozoski headed to the bench 54 seconds into the period.

Storck drilled long jumpers on consecutive possessions late in the quarter, including one that gave the Crusaders a 41-30 lead.

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Katie Lavelle quietly dominated with 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Perhaps even more important "was how she locked down on Jordan Augustus," teammate Taylor Byrne said.

Lavelle's defense from the perimeter to the post held Augustus, an All-Long Island forward, to 11 points -- five of which came late, with the game in hand. Coach Rich Slater, not prone to hyperbole, called Lavelle "the best defensive player I've had" in 20 years of coaching.

"This was a huge game, so we came in with the mind-set that it was going to take energy and defense," Lavelle said.

Byrne, a 6-1 center, also controlled the paint defensively (14 rebounds, three blocks) in addition to scoring 10 points for Lutheran (14-2).

"We'd have loved to have Boogie on the court," Slater said, "but in times of adversity, these kids step forward."

And shift over, too. Shooting guard Nani Redford ran the point until Brozoski returned with 3:23 left. Redford had six points, three assists and three steals, and her speed in transition caused some defensive breakdowns. She also was solid in guarding Mei-Lyn Bautista, making the All-LI star work for her 19 points.

St. Mary's (10-4) hasn't lost a CHSAA regular-season game since 2012 and Lutheran is the defending state Federation Class A champ.

"We want to be No. 1 and I think we made a pretty good case for ourselves," Redford said. "We showed we're an awesome team."

With more than one awesome player.

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