Last night's St. Mary's/Long Island Lutheran game was not only a battle between two of the Island's best teams, but also two of the Island's best players — the Gaels' Chavaughn Lewis and the Crusaders' Achraf Yacoubou.
Neither disappointed in St. Mary's 57-55 victory at Lutheran.
Lewis scored 20 points, including a pair of free throws with 34.3 seconds left that gave St. Mary's a 54-49 lead, while Yacoubou poured in 18.
MSG Varsity (iO channel 14) will replay the game in its entirety tonight at 7:30 p.m., 9 and midnight.
Here is some postgame reaction from the Gaels...
Lewis: "It was a big win. People thought that we were going to lose. People predicted we were going to lose. But we just came out here and we knew what we could do and knew what we were capable of. We came out here and gave it our best."
St. Mary's coach Bill Harkins: "It was great. It's the way high school basketball should be. Every game should be like this."
Harkins told me before the game he was treating the matchup as a big game despite the fact that, as a non-league contest, it means little in the grand scheme of things.
Here are a few more notes on the game that didn't make the paper...
-St. Mary's forward/center Charles McCann played a spectacular game, scoring 17 points, many in the paint. Lutheran just couldn't contain him down low. And he scored at crucial times — early in the game before Lewis got going, and then two short jumpers that regained the lead for the Gaels in the fourth quarter.
He also took a crucial charge midway through the fourth quarter and knocked away Lutheran's inbounds pass with 0.3 seconds left. Solid game for the big man.
-Lutheran's Jordan Allen, who was celebrating his 19th birthday, was held to just six points, mainly because of his struggles from the free-throw line. He missed all five of his attempts from the line.
With 1:01 left in the game and Lutheran trailing by five, Allen was fouled on a fastbreak and went down hard. Coach John Buck elected to take him out of the game (which is allowed when a player is injured) in favor of Tiquan Garner, who came off the bench and sank both free throws. Buck tried to insert Allen back in the lineup immediately, but had to wait for the next stoppage because Allen came out with an injury. It was a convenient injury based on Allen's struggles from the line.
-Both team's benches had little impact on the game. In addition to Garner's two free throws, Brandon Alford knocked down a three late in the game for Lutheran, while Wilson Molina scored St. Mary's only two bench points.
-Yacoubou had a nice evening, with 18 points, but he never took over the game. He scored four points in the first quarter, seven in the second, three in the third and four in the fourth. Like Allen, he also struggled from the line, going 1-for-5, including a miss on the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:15 to play. (As a team, Lutheran was just 6-of-16 from the line.) He and Lewis guarded each other straight up most of the game, which probably contributed to stretches of offensive inconsistency for each.
-Here's a blow-by-blow of what happened after Lewis' free throws made it 54-49 ... Alford came down and nailed a three to make it 54-52, then Dante Agnew went to the line and hit two free throws (56-52). Mike Florin hit his third three-pointer of the game to again make it a one-point game with 9.2 seconds left. Justin Bailey made 1-of-2 free throws to make it 57-55 with 8.0 seconds left. Lutheran fumbled away the ball, but St. Mary's knocked it out of bounds with 0.3 seconds left.
-St. Mary's and Floral Park are the only two undefeated teams left in Nassau.
-The largest lead for either team was St. Mary's 30-20 advantage after Agnew's lay-up with 1:18 left in the first half. But Lutheran closed on a 7-0 run, including a Florin three-pointer with 5.0 seconds left. Lutheran scored the first four points of the second half to take a 31-30 lead (on an 11-0 run), but Lewis sank a three-pointer to make it 33-31 Gaels.