ALBANY - After an evening of off-target, ill-advised shots, Long Island Lutheran finally got one it wanted in the closing seconds. But Marvin Prochet's bank shot in traffic from close range didn't fall.
The Crusaders did, however, losing to Christ the King, 50-44, Friday night in a state Federation Class AA boys basketball semifinal at SEFCU Arena.
"Marvin on the right block. That's the shot we wanted," LuHi coach John Buck said of a sequence that began with 21 seconds left after two timeouts and his team trailing 46-44. "They covered it well."
The Royals (26-4) have beaten Lutheran (19-7) three times in a row at the Federation tournament, the previous two years in the Class AA final, and five times overall.
It didn't look as if that streak would continue after LuHi got off to a 15-0 start, with seven different players scoring. But that was the only period of prolonged offense either team sustained in a taut defensive game.
"Good shot, bad shot. We've struggled all year with that," Buck said. "I love this team to death. They fought hard. But we didn't have a good understanding of when is the right time to take a shot."
So the Crusaders, who were led by Devonte Green's 13 points and eight rebounds and Prochet's nine points and eight boards, watched their lead slip away.
Tyrone Cohen led the Royals with 19 points, many at critical moments. He converted a putback for a three-point play just before halftime to cut Christ the King's deficit to 35-31 and then had three baskets in the fourth quarter, including one that put the Royals ahead for good. "What a knack he had for getting to the offensive glass," Buck said.
His own team showed a knack for shots that often were hurried or off-balance. The Crusaders shot 17-for-59 from the field (29 percent) and were 2-for-16 on three-pointers.
"It was all about shot selection," Buck said. "After we took that lead, we got excited and started taking quick shots. We wanted to hit home runs."
Instead, mighty LuHi struck out.