MANHATTAN, NY - At the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College, New York City teams spilt with Long Island on Martin Luther King day. There were two marquee Long Island vs. New York City games.
Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln would take on Half Hollow Hills West of Dix Hills followed by the Rice Raiders from Harlem against Brookville's L.I. Lutheran. NYCHoops.net was there to check out all of the action.
Railsplitters Derail Hills West, 74-38
After suffering his first loss of the season, Shaquille Stokes (17 points, 5 assists, 1 steal) didn't take long to get NYC's best team back on track Sunday afternoon. The Lincoln guard was untouchable in the first half, carving up the Hills West backcourt, and securing an easy victory against a Long Island side that looked as if they didn't belong on the same court as Lincoln. Stokes acknowledged his team's attitude, "We had a tough loss but we needed to bounce back."
The game was seemingly out of reach after the first quarter as Lincoln jumped out to an early 24-13 advantage. Stokes controlled the tempo, pushing when necessary and finding teammates for easy buckets. He was also red hot; nailing 7-9 shots from the field in the first half, "My mentality is to put pressure on the defense," said Stokes. Lincoln was clicking on all cylinders.
After taking a 38-21 lead at halftime, Lincoln cruised in the second half, never taking a break defensively and making life extremely difficult for Hills West. Freshman Isaiah Whitehead (12 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds) was steady as always, shooting an efficient 4-7 from the field and chipping in 12 points. 6'11" Jordan Dickerson added 6 points netting 75% of his looks. Tavon Sledge led for Hills West, contributing 13 in the loss.
Stokes and the Lincoln squad were dialed in from the start oozing focus and proving that they can bounce back after a tough loss. As long as Stokes continues his superior, always-in-attack-mode guard play, Lincoln can be confident in its quest for a state title.
Rice Rocked By Long Island Lutheran, 72-63
After an emotional win on Friday night for Rice, Villanova bound Achraf Yacoubou (27 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals) took-over Sunday's NYC/L.I. clash sealing an upset victory for Long Island Lutheran. Yacoubou had a game-high 27 points and was a matchup nightmare for the Rice defense. His two first quarter dunks set the tone for a game in which he was able to do whatever he wanted. Yacoubou discussed his throw-downs noting," Whenever you can get dunks that like it gives your team energy."
This game was close throughout with 6 lead changes and 4 ties. As Yacoubou suggested, energy was a factor for Long Island Lutheran as they edged out the Raiders in the hustle categories, scoring 19 points off turnovers, 10 fast break points, and 30 points in the paint.
L.I. Lutheran guard Mike Florin (12 points 4 assists, 3 steals), was solid offensively, driving and feeding his teammates for open looks at the basket. Jordan Allen (13 points, 2 steals) was perfect from the field hitting all 5 of his shots and
Jermaine Sanders (20 points, 2 assists, 1 steal) led for the Raiders scoring 20 on 7-18 shooting in the defeat.
Rice could not contain the physical presence of Yacoubou. Nova' fans can feel great knowing what they are getting from Yacoubou in the future. His ability to get into the lane, his defensive prowess, his offensive rebounding and his willingness to take big shots when his team needs them is unprecedented. As the Raiders now know firsthand, he will be a force to deal with this season and beyond.