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Empire Invitational features five Long Island basketball teams and top-level talent

Donatas Kupsas drives the ball against Kioni Nedd

Donatas Kupsas drives the ball against Kioni Nedd of the Hills East during the match on Dec. 9, 2016. Photo Credit: Anna Sergeeva

Some of New York’s elite high school basketball teams and prospects will be showcased Saturday at Adelphi.

The inaugural Empire Invitational will feature six games, and it includes five Long Island schools — Lawrence Woodmere Academy, Knox Prep, Long Island Lutheran, Our Savior New American and Baldwin.

New Jersey’s Pope John XXIII is the only team from out of state.

LWA (8-0) and South Shore will tip off the event at noon.

“When you have a place like Adelphi, you want to have a Long Island flavor,” said Pat Lawless, founder and director of the Empire Invitational. “Getting teams like Long Island Lutheran and Lawrence Woodmere and Baldwin will bring that Long Island flavor to it.”

Lawless, a junior at Seton Hall, has been reporting on high school basketball recruiting since he was in high school. His name carries clout in that circle, which explains his ability to organize an event with such a high level of talent.

Our Savior New American’s Boubacar Diakite and Mamadou Doucoure have verbally committed to St. John’s and Rutgers, respectively. LWA sophomore center Aidan Igiehon has received scholarship offers from Villanova, St. John’s, Seton Hall and others. Albany Academy’s Hameir Wright is 40th nationally and third in the state in’s Class of 2018 rankings.

With a handful of potential Division I players, Knox Prep (8-3) will face former Baldwin star and All-Long Island first-teamer Jared Rhoden and Bronx Our Saviour Lutheran at 1:30 p.m.

Long Island Lutheran (10-1) will follow at 3 p.m. in what Lawless said should be considered the event’s premier game. With 6-8 forward and high-major prospect Donatas Kupsas leading the way, the Crusaders will play Bishop Loughlin, which is led by Cincinnati commit Keith Williams and Markquis Nowell.

Our Savior New American will battle Pope John XXIII at 6 pm, and Baldwin (5-0) will face Queens Construction at 7:30 pm to conclude the event.


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