A warning to the rest of the CHSAA: Don't underestimate Chavaughn Lewis and the St. Mary's Gaels.
Lewis led all scorers with 23 points as St. Mary's shocked Uniondale, the defending Class AA Long Island boys basketball champion, 73-53, in the Knight Classic Tip Off last night at Uniondale High School.
"We came out ready to play and they underestimated us," Lewis said.
Whenever it seemed as if Uniondale was on the verge of closing the gap, Lewis and his teammates opened it up again. Uniondale had the momentum on its side after trimming a 19-point halftime deficit to 11 before Lewis stole an outlet pass. He raced down court and threw down a one-handed jam with seconds remaining in the third to deflate the hopes of the Knights.
After Uniondale's Claudy Casseus converted on three putbacks, Shaq Mosley hit a three-pointer with just under six minutes left to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since late in the first quarter. But Justin Bailey answered with a baseline jumper, followed by a three, to put St. Mary's up 58-44.
Even after his team's upset win, coach Bill Harkins kept the bigger picture in mind.
"It's a great start," he said. "But we haven't had a winning record in two years. Although it's a great win, we have got a long road ahead of us."
Lewis scored 16 of his points in the first half. When he was given too much space, he made the jumper. When the defender pushed up on him, he created his own shot with aggressive drives.
St. Mary's opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run as Dante Agnew scored seven points off penetrating layups and fast-break opportunities. St. Mary's went into halftime with a 41-22 lead after forcing Uniondale to settle for numerous perimeter jumpers that wouldn't fall.
Bolade Akingboye had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Uniondale (1-1).
After two disappointing seasons, Lewis thinks St. Mary's 3-0 record has made a statement in the early going.
"We definitely were the underdogs the last few years," he said. "This year we've got something to prove. So, here we come."