As the Long Island Lutheran student section roared, sending echoes through the gymnasium with the use of various noisemakers, it was Tykei Greene who gave them the biggest reason to erupt.
Greene threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk with 4:35 remaining, giving the Crusaders’ boys basketball team a 14-point lead in its eventual 77-67 victory over Archbishop Molloy on Friday night.
The game, televised live on SNY, was part of the 2018 NYC High School Basketball Showdown at the City College of New York. Lutheran will play the Cardinal Hayes-Hudson Catholic winner in the final on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“I’m just using my length and my arms and my athleticism to really go after the ball,” Greene said of his jam, which came after a long jumper careened to the right of the basket and into his outstretched hand.
Greene had 14 points, and Tyson Etienne, Frankie Policelli and Andre Curbelo each had 16. Donatas Kupsas added 12.
This balanced offense was integral in answering Molloy’s Cole Anthony, son of former Knick Greg Anthony. The junior, considered the sixth-best prospect in the class of 2019 by ESPN, scored 34 points, including 10 straight with under two minutes left.
But after his three-pointer cut the deficit to seven points at 71-64 with 1:06 to play, the Crusaders (14-2) were 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to ice the win.
Much of Lutheran’s success came as a result of limiting Moses Brown, a 7-2 prospect committed to UCLA. He had just seven points thanks to aggressive defense from Kupsas, Policelli, Essam Mostafa and Messiah Swinson.
“We have a couple big guys, and we said that if we try to play tentatively on him, he’s just going to eat us up,” coach John Buck said.
Kupsas added that because it isn’t easy to replicate a 7-footer in practice, the Crusaders had to get creative.
“We got a pad, and they held it up high so we couldn’t shoot it over it,” he said. “We tried to use something that simulates a 7-2 guy.”
Speaking of creativity, Curbelo provided a major spark in the second half with his quick-thinking moves in the paint. The point guard used a baseline drive to his benefit multiple times, catching defenders in the air and then completing tough shots down low.
“That’s how I play,” he said. “That’s how I’ve played since I was five. That’s my game.”
The student section loved it, exploding into loud cries after eye-popping plays. Those happened often.