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Long Island Lutheran's Zed Key has accepted his role as sixth man

The junior transfer from Brentwood plays starter's minutes even though he comes off the bench.

Long Island Lutheran's Zed Key (21) dunks against

Long Island Lutheran's Zed Key (21) dunks against South Shore in the second half of the New York State Federation Class AA semifinals on March 22, 2019, in Glens Falls, N.Y. Christ the King won 57-42. Photo Credit: HANS PENNINK/Hans Pennink

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — It doesn’t make a difference to Zed Key when he steps on the court for the first time. The only thing he’s focused on his bringing energy, and the results that follow.

For nearly any team on Long Island, Key would be not only a starter, but a player the offense would constantly run through. But he’s accepted a lesser responsibility for the Long Island Lutheran boys basketball team, which doesn’t mean his play has suffered or his role has diminished. Key’s excelled as the Crusaders’ sixth man, who still plays starter’s minutes.

“I just know my role,” said Key, a junior who played for Brentwood last year. “It doesn’t matter to be honest. When you come in a game, you have to effect the game in some way, so I really don’t care. I just come in the game, get good minutes, bring energy, rebound and that’s it.”

Key did just that in Long Island Lutheran’s 77-53 victory over South Shore in the state Federation Class AA semifinals at Cool Insuring Arena Friday evening. After entering the game off the bench before the midway point of the first quarter, Key brought energy on the offensive and defensive end.

What he didn’t do was score — initially. After being held scoreless in the first half, Key finished second on the team with 11 points in the game, adding seven rebounds.

“He just wants to do whatever we need him to do to help us win,” coach John Buck said. “He’s not going to start feeling bad because he isn’t scoring or is not getting the ball. He’s just such a great teammate that at any moment, he can go off with eight points, 10 points.”

Long Island Lutheran (24-2) plays Christ the King (20-10) Saturday night in the state Federation final at 8:30 p.m., looking to win its first Federation AA title in program history. The Crusaders last won a title in 2012, in Class A.

Buck said Key is “easily” one of the five best players on the team, but the coach likes the energy the 6-8 forward brings off the bench.

“For me, starting is just about timing and energy,” Buck said. “Coming in with Zed, he hits people with a wave that’s hard to match and he has not said a word about it all year.”

Key entered the Federation tournament ranked third on the team in points (11.6) and second in rebounds (6.0) per game, while ranking second on the team in total blocks (22). He also has the top field-goal percentage, shooting at 61 percent.

“I just try to play hard all the time and pick up my teammates because they need the energy and to feel the energy of the game,” Key said. “They feel the energy off you also.”

Key, who has received interest from schools such as Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Stony Brook among others, is excited for his future, but is only concentrating now on helping to bring Lutheran a championship. Regardless of his role.

“We had this goal in our mind since beginning of the season,” Key said. “We have one game left and we’re hoping to come out with a championship.”

As for what comes next?

“He’s just a phenomenal teammate,” Buck said. “He’s going to be really good. He’s just scratching the surface.”

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