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LI Lutheran loses in state Federation semifinal

Long Island Lutheran's Charles Manning (21) moves the

Long Island Lutheran's Charles Manning (21) moves the ball in front of Thomas Jefferson's Jordan Morgan (23) during the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions boys' Class AA high school basketball semi-final on Friday, March 18, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. Credit: Hans Pennink/ Hans Pennink

ALBANY — In Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s University is getting a player with oceans of talent.

The electric lefty scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half, many with acrobatic moves to the basket, to lead PSAL champion Jefferson to a 69-62 victory over Long Island Lutheran Friday night in a Federation Class AA semifinal at the Times Union Center.

“He’s so good from three levels,” Lutheran coach John Buck said of the player Chris Mullin hopes to build a Red Storm resurrection around. “He can hit the deep three, make the midrange shot and get to the rim with both hands.”

Ponds’ preponderance of moves allowed the Orange Wave (22-4) to expand a 35-33 halftime lead and end the season for the Crusaders (22-4), who were led by another big-time recruit, Devonte Green. Danny Green’s younger brother scored 20 points, 13 in the first half, in his final game before heading to Indiana next season.

“We did a pretty good job on Ponds in the first half when we played our zone well,” Buck said, alluding to Ponds’ scoreless first quarter. “But when we got down seven or eight in the third quarter, we went to a man-to-man to pick up the pace. That’s a good team and they were able to get to the rim.”

Jefferson started its damage midway through the third quarter with a 9-0 run that produced a 46-37 lead. Ponds scored on a steal and dunk, a long three and another dunk off a breakaway. Sandwiched around those baskets were drives by Rasheem Dunn (nine points, all in the second half), another Division I guard with slashing skills who will attend St. Francis of Brooklyn.

“In that third quarter, they made some tough shots and we didn’t finish,” Buck said. “Then they got a lead and started to get up and down, which they like to do.”

Ponds was the facilitator in the fourth as well. He scored on a slick finger roll followed by a turnaround bank in the lane. His flashiest move of the night came when he sliced to the rim from the left side, changed hands then finished with a no-look righty reverse high off the glass.

When Lutheran battled to within 63-58 in the last two minutes, on a three-pointer from the wing and putback by substitute Harrison Warnock, Ponds shimmered again. He delivered the clinching basket by weaving through traffic, hanging in the air, and hitting the bank for a 65-58 lead with 45 seconds left.

Somewhere, Mr. Mullin is smiling.

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