basketball Edit

NYS Federation TOC Class AA Predictions



This weekend was scheduled to be the biggest weekend of the high school basketball calendar as Fordham University was set to host the NYS Federation Tournament of Champions in the Bronx for the first time ever. All the champions from all over the Empire State were due to come in to duel it out on the court to put to bed who is truly the best of the best.

Because of COVID-19 we won't get the opportunity to find out who will reign supreme in New York this year but is here to play the what if situations out for you.

Outside of Long Island Lutheran because the NYSAIS representative we don't know who the other three participants would've been as the CHSAA, PSAL, and NYSAIS had yet to crown champions in their respective leagues, but we are going to name champions for them for the sake of this story.

In the PSAL we are going to give the edge to South Shore as they will get just enough from Marcus Burnett '20 and Ziare Wells '21 as they will carry the team late to see them overcome an early fourth quarter deficit to defeat Brooklyn Collegiate for the championship 67-62.

Malachi Smith
Malachi Smith

The anticipated duel in the CHSAA that everyone was hoping for will play out again in our scenario as Archbishop Stepinac will take on St. Raymond for the Intersectional Championship. The two teams split during the regular season and then it was the Crusaders who won the Archdiocese of New York title. This time the revenge game we will have going to the Ravens though as Stepinac's fourth quarter struggles in the championship game a year ago flare back up again as St. Ray's led by Malachi Smith '21 do a great job defensive late to stymie Stepinac and ultimately take a 72-65 victory.

For the final spot we would have Horace Greeley defeating Brentwood in one NYSPHSAA semifinal and then Corcoran defeating University Prep in the other. In a definite contrast of styles, it's the Cougars that we have being able to get up and down more as for the second year in a row it's a Section 3 team winning the championship as we have Corcoran knocking off the Quakers 64-55 for the title led by the 25 title game points of MVP De'Jour Reaves '20.

That sets up our Federation TOC matchups for this weekend as it would be Long Island Lutheran taking on Corcoran in one semifinal, with the second semifinal pitting South Shore against St. Raymond.

Let's start with the LuHi vs. Corcoran contest as it's a matchup similar to last season's semifinal game between CHSAA winner Christ the King and the NYSPHSAA champ in West Genesee. The Crusaders, much like the Royals a year ago, will have the size advantage down low and more depth in the backcourt, but depending on how well Corcoran can shoot it and get out in transition will determine how close a game this truly will be.

Reaves averaged over 26 points per game this season for a reason as he is one of the more underrated stars in New York State and he should be up for the moment and connect from the outside early and often to keep the Cougars close in the early going as he and D.J. Haynes '22 will be able to do a good enough job from the perimeter to stay tight for a while.

Zed Key
Zed Key

As always the considerable 30+ day layoff that Long Island Lutheran has to deal with each season will lead to them being rusty out of the gate, even trailing after one quarter to a tougher than anticipated Corcoran team, but Zed Key '20 puts on a display inside as the opening half wears on to see the Crusaders take a 33-30 lead into halftime.

Even with Reaves doing all he can in scoring 29 points to lead all scorers in this one, Andre Curbelo '20 takes over and proves to be the consummate floor general in distributing to the outside shooters of LuHi as Rafael Pinzon '21 and Hugo Bergstrom '20 light it up from the outside, with Curbelo scoring at will when he wants late as the Crusaders have 5 players ultimately in double figures led by Key's 25 points and 16 rebounds in what would end up being a 73-57 win for Long Island Lutheran.

The second matchup will pack up the Rose Hill Gymnasium as the best in Brooklyn in South Shore square off with the best from the Bronx in St. Raymond.

The Ravens will be raring to go and get off to a hot start as Luis Kortright '20 hits a pair of early three's, and with South Shore not getting the calls they want when getting to the rim it's St. Rays who go up by double digits after the opening quarter.

Dontae Prescott '20 will slow the game down some for the Vikings in the second quarter and with both Wells and Dakhari Lewis '20 using their size to shoot over defenders as the half wears on South Shore does wake up some as the hot start for the Ravens cools down some with the St. Raymond lead down to just 37-32 at the half.

A drive from Mike Emmanuel '20 will give South Shore their first lead of the game late in the third but Smith will go coast to coast on back to back possessions to see the Ravens retake the lead at 55-52 going into the fourth.

It's a true back and forth final stanza with the lead trading back and forth on a number of occasions but it's Gary Grant '20 who while quiet for most of the game steps up when his team needs him the most with 10 points in the 4th as his length inside plays a big difference as Kortright has a game high 22 to lead all scorers to push St. Raymond to the title game with a 74-68 win.

So, the NYS Federation Class AA Tournament of Champions title game is set as it will be Long Island Lutheran squaring off with St. Raymond for the championship. The two teams met earlier this season on Long Island with the Crusaders winning with relative ease 91-64, and while this game you can expect to be closer, it's still going to be LuHi day once again to reign supreme.

After being shut out in for Mr. New York Basketball by Gatorade and the BCANY, Curbelo has a point to prove that he is the best player in the Empire State and takes it upon himself to not just put up fantastic offensive numbers in the game for the championship, he locks down the Ravens key guards as well in a game that he makes sure leaves an impression that it's he who is New York's top man.

Grant is able to use his versatility inside to be able to finish with an array of moves for St. Ray's, and Kedar Davis '22 has a strong outing down low for the Ravens as well as Key gets in some foul issues early on allowing St. Raymond to play more inside with the guards struggling from the perimeter.

Curbelo though has 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in the opening half of play with Long Island Lutheran hitting on seven opening half three balls as well as they have built up a 42-26 lead going to the locker room over the Ravens.

St. Raymond is able to close to as close as 9 midway through the third but with Key back on the floor and doing a good job containing the interior of the Ravens it's become harder and harder for the CHSAA winners to score down low, and with Curbelo showing just the type of dynamic talent he is the lead balloons to over 20 early in the fourth as the Crusaders can smell their second straight title.

Long Island Lutheran head coach John Buck with just over 2 minutes to play subs out all his starters including Curbelo who gives a big hug to the head man as he walks off the floor for the final time. It's a 27 point, 11 assist, and 8 rebound performance in a masterful effort for Curbelo as Pinzon added 19 points in connecting on 5 three's in the game as well to help lead Long Island Lutheran to another NYS Federation Tournament of Champions title as they pull away late to defeat St. Raymond 78-56.

NYS Federation Tournament of Champions MVP

Andre Curbelo (Long Island Lutheran '20)

NYS Federation Tournament of Champions All-Tournament Team

Andre Curbelo (Long Island Lutheran '20)

Zed Key (Long Island Lutheran '20)

Luis Kortright (St. Raymond '20)

Gary Grant (St. Raymond '20)

Ziare Wells (South Shore '21)

De'Jour Reaves (Corcoran '20)