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Andre Curbelo propels Lutheran boys past South Shore to advance in Federation

South Shore's Femi Odukale, left, defends against Long

South Shore's Femi Odukale, left, defends against Long Island Lutheran's Andre Curbelo in the first half of a New York State Federation Class AA semifinal on Friday in Glens Falls, N.Y. Credit: Hans Pennink

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- The quest for both history and redemption continues for the Long Island Lutheran boys basketball team.

 Lutheran comfortably defeated South Shore, 77-53, in a boys basketball state Federation Class AA semifinal at Cool Insuring Arena Friday evening.

Lutheran (24-2) advances to play Christ the King (20-10) in the state Federation Class AA final at the same location at 8:30 p.m. Christ the King defeated West Genesee, 59-53, in the first semifinal contest. South Shore ended its season at 29-6.

Andre Curbelo had 31 points, Zed Key had 11 points, Tyler Stephenson-Moore and Jalen Celestine each had nine points and Essam Mostafa had eight points for Lutheran. All of Key's points came in the second half. Curbelo scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half.

 In game clouded with controversy last season, resulting in the New York State Federation of Secondary School Athletic Associations admitting an error regarding the number of timeouts Lutheran had remaining, the Crusaders didn’t need to worry about late-game administration errors Friday night.

Last year, officials handed Lutheran a technical foul, claiming the team tried to call a timeout when it had none remaining, with the score tied at 72. But coach John Buck was later told the officials admitted the mistake and apologized. The Crusaders eventually lost the contest, 76-72.

We didn't come here to win, we came out here to destroy people," Curbelo said. "That's just what we're going to do now. With what happened last year, we're a little mad but at the same time, we're taking it personal. We're coming out here to destroy people.  

"With what happened last year, it's not acceptable," Curbelo said. "We walked away because of an error in the book at the official table. We're just taking it very personal."  

"It's very important," Buck said. "365 days ago was one of the more painful days for a lot of these kids and myself in the world of athletics"

The Crusaders are searching for their first state Federation Class AA championship in program history. The Crusaders lead all boys programs with seven federation championships, last winning Class A in 2012.

Lutheran controlled the paint early with six points from Mostafa in the first quarter, matched by two three-pointers from Stephenson-Moore as Lutheran took a 12-6 lead after the first quarter.

Curbelo took over the scoring in the second period, scoring eight points while hitting all four of his foul shots, as Long Island Lutheran took a 26-18 lead into halftime. Curbelo and Mostafa each had eight points in the first half. After opening an 18-8 lead midway through the second quarter, Lutheran never led by fewer than six points for the remainder of the game.

South Shore had eight different trips to the foul line in the third quarter, resulting in 10 points, but was held to only two baskets in the period. Lutheran outscored South Side, 27-15, in the third quarter, taking a 53-33 advantage.

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