BROOKLYN, NY - On Tuesday, players from the Abraham Railsplitters and the Bishop Loughlin Lions faced off in the Conrad McRae Youth League Championship. Both teams had played throughout most of the summer and topped teams and players from CHSAA and the PSAL en route to the championship game at Bishop Ford HS. When it came down to head-to-head competition for all the marbles, Lincoln would end up being the last team standing.
In a Battle Royale, the players from Lincoln would win through attrition, 58-48.
"Nobody can count Lincoln out," said Coach Kenny Prentlow. Prentlow, who coached the Lincoln players and is an assistant coach of the Railsplitters during the regular season, added, "More than anything, this tournament gave our guys the confidence that we can beat anybody."
The game began with both squads going mano-y-mano and throughout the entire quarter the game was basically a draw. Trash talking and flared tempers ignited an early double tech, displaying how much both teams were invested in the game and the win.
Lincoln led slightly to start the second quarter, 14-11.
Even though big men Travis Charles (12 points) and Joel Angus (13 points) kept Bishop Loughlin in the hunt, early penetration by Shaq Davis (8 points) and perimeter shooting from Ian Vasquez (14 points) elongated Lincoln's lead to 27-19 at the intermission.
Similarly to the semifinal game against South Shore, Khadeem Carrington (11 points) came alive in the third quarter and sliced Lincoln's lead down to three points with 5:30 left.
Loughlin also stepped up defensively as Charles and Angus added blocked shots onto their stat sheet. The result was Lincoln only being able to claim a 31-29 advantage to start the fourth.
The Lions kept the pressure up and with 6:55 left in regulation, Carrington drove down the lane to finally tie the game at 37.
The Railsplitter players quickly regained their lead as Isaiah Watson (11 points) attacked the basket viciously and the team implemented their own brand of defensive intensity.
Tafari Whittingham (8 points) and Isaiah Whitehead (8 points) did not have their best offensive showing but became human repellants of Loughlin's attempt to score.
Offensively, Lincoln instituted high screens and weaves that enabled Davis and Watson to continue attacking the basket. With 2:22 left to play, their lead was back up to eight.
The Lions were relentless and with 1:41, the full court helter skelter pressure they applied began to pay off and reduced the point spread. With Loughlin's momentum peaking in their final run, Charles scored downlow in transition off a Lincoln turnover and also drew a foul. With a chance to cut the lead to three, the senior forward's shot fell short. You could almost hear the air deflate out of the Lion's balloon.
A fast break bucket by Davis with under a minute would suddenly put Loughlin in desperation mode. Over the limit, attempts to foul quick and score quick, backfired and instead punted the Lion's deficit back up to ten points as time expired.
As the Lincoln players collected their championship hardware, NYCHoops.net spoke again to Coach Prentlow. "I was very proud of Quilly (Shaq Davis), Ian and Watson," he said. "They really stepped up for us but especially Quilly. He won the MVP."
While Davis won the MVP, Carrington earned the Sportsmanship award according to tournament director Anton Marchand.