All season, teammates have whispered inspirational words in Luckens Victor's ear before games, hoping to fire up the relatively quiet 6-6 junior center for the day's challenge. They believe he needs a pep talk, given Victor's role as the gentle giant for Westbury.
"We tell him, 'You're 6-6. You can't be scared,' " Sheldon Hagigal said.
The message will be timely Saturday as Westbury faces Newark, a team from about 30 miles east of Rochester that features a talented big man, Javon McCrea. The 6-7 center will play for the University at Buffalo next season. And he isn't just tall.
"He's 240 pounds," Westbury coach Dave Graff said of McCrea, who had 18 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks in Newark's 77-63 win over Williamsville South of Buffalo in a state quarterfinal.
It's important for Victor, Westbury's only player taller than 6-3, to stay out of foul trouble so he can help defend the paint. In the Green Dragons' 58-56 win over Harborfields last Saturday, Victor sat out eight minutes of the second half and fouled out with two minutes left. "If that happens in this game,'' Graff said, "we're in trouble."
Westbury's three dynamic players - Hagigal, a guard-forward and its leading scorer (averaging 22 points in the last eight games), swingman Lamard Herron and guard Paris Abrams - each is 6-2.
Hagigal or Herron often get the most rebounds for Westbury (Hagigal led with seven last Saturday), but they would rather defer to the taller Victor.