WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The worst-kept secret about Long Island basketball may be the talent of Savion Lewis, and now he’s getting the opportunity to show off his skills across the bridge.
He led Half Hollow Hills East to the Suffolk Class AA title last season, and now that he’s a senior, the point guard is looking for more this time around. Even without stepping on the court in the fourth quarter Thursday night, he had 28 points and five assists as Hills East defeated White Plains, 84-56, at the 19th Slam Dunk Tournament at Westchester County Center, home of the Knicks’ G League affiliate.
“He could go off for 40 points,” coach Peter Basel said. “Tonight he was getting out in transition and finishing buckets that way. Having him, he just kind of steers the ship and everyone kind of falls into line. He directs everything out there.”
Hills East (4-1) will play Saunders at 7 p.m. Friday in the championship game.
“It was an amazing experience,” Lewis said. “My team and I, we’ve never played in a facility like this, and I think it was just very good to get up and down and play well against a competitive team like that.”
Hills East’s pressure defense and run-first offense helped the Thunderbirds take a 12-2 lead less than three minutes into the game. They turned that into a 29-10 advantage after the first quarter and a 50-28 halftime lead.
Hills East forced 24 turnovers and held White Plains (4-4) to 34.5 percent shooting from the field. The Thunderbirds shot 54 percent.
“Our coach told us this was a young team so we were just going to pressure them from the start,” said Kendall Nero-Clark, who added 10 points and 10 rebounds. “Force a lot of steals, defense to fast offense and just get it out and push.”
Julien Crittendon had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists and Shane Dean scored 10 points. Max Caspi contributed all over the court with eight points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks.
“We’ve got the horses,” said Basel, who added that the first half was the best basketball the team has played all season. “We’ve got a lot of athleticism, a lot of speed, and that’s kind of what we do.”
At the forefront of it all is Lewis, whose electrifying speed up the floor creates shots either for himself or a teammate.
“He’s the overall team leader,” Nero-Clark said. “When we have Savion out there, it’s just so much better. He controls the court . . . He’s just always looking up, so it’s always fun and we always get the ‘W.’ ”