BROOKLYN, NY - The magician plies his trade by getting the audience to focus on the right hand so much that they don't even realize that it's the left hand that's tricking them.
L.I. Lutheran's head Coach John Buck must have substituted a magician's hand-book for his playbook when LuHi tricked Bishop Loughlin to score a last second lay-up for the win, 73-72.
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The play bamboozled everyone; the Lions, the crowd and even yours truly. The result was an easy lay-up off an inbound pass from Chris Atkinson to Tawayne Anderson. "It's actually a play that we've practiced," said Buck. "I was surprised they even remembered it." According to one LuHi assistant coach, the play only works on rare occasions when an opponent plays a zone on the inbound so it not used often.
Under the basket, with 2.6 seconds left in regulation, Atkinson (5 points) had the option to pass to either 6'9" UConn-bound forward Kentan Facey (17 points) or Anderson. Loughlin completely bought into the option of the lob into Facey for the dunk or at least , a tip in.
Khadeen Carrington is seen pointing to Javian Delacruz to watch Facey to which Delacruz responds, "I got him, I got him!" That interplay between the teammates sold the sleight of hand even more. On the inbounds the Facey and Anderson criss-crossed and while all eyes were on Facey, Anderson was left wide open. "Chris read it," said Buck. "and he read it right."
"I didn't even think I'd be open," said Anderson (9 points) who said that his shot was flat all evening. "That was the biggest basket of my life," he said.
The game was tight throughout as the momentum ebbed and flowed. Lutheran had an early advantage, leading by eight after the first quarter. Playing at a more deliberate pace in their most recent win against Abraham Lincoln, LuHi opted to play a more up-tempo game against Loughlin.
The Crusaders got a constant dose of offense from Tim Quashie (13 points) and Mical Ryan-Boyd (22 points) but also a steady diet of buckets from Facey. The Brookville, NY squad would extend their lead to 12 points capping off a 9-0 run that began late in the opening quarter.
Carrington (28 points) and Mike Williams (19 points) would finally begin to carve into LuHi's lead at the beginning of the third quarter; the Crusaders only held a 35-31 advantage. That lead would evaporate as the duo of Carrington and Williams gave the Lions their first lead.
Each team would take turns being in front until a 3-ball at the buzzer by Isaak Bodon (6 points) put Bishop Loughlin ahead by two at the end of three quarter. The momentum seemed to sway towards the home court as Facey picked up a foul early in the forth and was forced to sit.
With the Crusaders frontcourt suddenly vulnerable, the Lions attacked led by their point guard Jordan Nanton (5 points). With 5:18 left to play, Loughlin's lead increased to seven points. Coach Buck needed to stop the bleeding and re-inserted Facey at the 4:20 mark.
Walking on eggshells due to foul trouble, Facey was less effective but Boyd and Quashie held up the slack. Luhi ate into the Lions lead and with three minutes left to play the Lions were only up by a point. Carrington drew a foul but went 1 of 2 from the line. Boyd would respond with a trey followed by a steal on the inbound and with 1:58, the Crusaders were back in the driver's seat up two and seemed poised for victory as the momentum was shifting their way. That is until Atkinson double dribbled.
With 53.4 second left to play, Loughlin had the ball and Carrington would make the Crusaders pay. The lefty hit a tough and-1 shot to punctuate a 5-0 run and Loughlin had a 70-68 lead. The Crusaders would compound things by turning the ball over allowing the Lions to extend that lead to 4 point with 28.6 seconds.
The hour glass was almost empty but with 12.8 seconds remaining, LuHi received a ray of hope from an unlike source. Tiqaun Garner (5 points), a football player with scholarship to Wagner College drained 3-ball and just like that, Lutheran was only down by one.
On the inbound, Bodon got fouled and had a chance to give the Lions a 3 point cushion, but he would boing both free-throws. With 7.7 seconds Lutheran would get the ball up court only to get the shot blocked. That led to the inbound pass by Atkinson under the rim and the winning lay-up by Anderson.
"[The Bishop Loughlin gym] was a tough place to play in," said Buck. "I don't know how we won but we won."
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