BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Savion Lewis, Long Island’s leading scorer, ran his own version of a spread offense. He spread the ball around.
The jet-propelled guard was held to 20 points — 14 below his season average — but had eight assists, nine rebounds and two steals to lead Half Hollow Hills East to an 82-66 victory over McQuaid Jesuit on Saturday in a state Class AA boys basketball semifinal at Floyd Maines Arena.
The Thunderbirds will face Liverpool — which defeated defending Class AA Mount Vernon, 70-67, in the other semifinal — at 2 p.m. Sunday. A win would give Hills East the first state title in program history.
The line produced by Lewis — named New York’s Mr. Basketball — was especially impressive considering that he could have been tempted to shoot more. Backcourt partner Julien Crittendon (14 of his 20 points in a sizzling first half) had to sit out the entire third quarter with three first-half fouls.
“I know I’ll be a point guard at the next level, so I definitely played a solid point guard game,” said Lewis, alluding to his college role at Quinnipiac. “I concentrated on distributing the ball and getting my teammates involved.”
That included reserve Shamar Moore-Hough, who scored eight points in Crittendon’s absence, including a three-pointer on a dish from Lewis in the third quarter. Moore-Hough also hit a three in the second quarter. “He doesn’t play much and it was amazing what he did in a big-time atmosphere like this,” Lewis said. “Everyone was so happy for him.”
There were smiles all around when Lewis led a 13-0 run to start the third quarter that gave Hills East a 52-32 lead. Center Kenny Mathurin (16 points, nine rebounds) began and ended the surge with inside buckets. In between, Lewis finished in transition after Mathurin’s steal and also drove for a layup. Kendall Nero-Clark (eight points, 13 rebounds, two blocks, two steals) converted a putback and Shane Dean hit a three on a feed from Lewis.
“That was a first for us, having Julien sitting on the bench for an entire quarter, but we got through it,” coach Pete Basel said. “He wanted to go back in but I told him, ‘No, you’re sitting. I need you for the fourth quarter.’ ”
McQuaid cut the deficit to 59-47 entering the final period, so when Crittendon re-entered, the outcome was still in doubt. “It was frustrating to watch, but my teammates picked up the slack,” said Crittendon, who shot 8-for-11. “I just tried to play a balanced game and take smart shots.”
He immediately drove the lane for a basket, and though he picked up his fourth foul early in the period on a reach-in, Crittendon avoided any charging calls and did not foul out. He added a baseline jumper and turnaround bank shot as the Thunderbirds broke it open with a 23-point fourth quarter.
Mathurin contributed 10 points in the final period, twice taking passes from Lewis. One of those dimes was a gold coin, as Lewis whipped a dazzling no-look pass for an easy deuce.
“Savion was getting defended tough, so he found other ways to help us win,” Basel said. “If he’s struggling with his shot, then he’ll distribute.”
Lewis showed he was more than willing to share the wealth.