NEW YORK, NY - It was a contrast of styles on Monday afternoon at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational as Long Island Lutheran took on Bayside in the first contest of the day.
Bayside came out on the attack and looked to push the pace and make it a full court up tempo type of game. The Crusaders seemed to struggle with the style of play for much of the game, but when Long Island Lutheran needed players to step up they got it. Kentan Facey came up with 2 big blocks late, and Chris Atkinson hit some big shots in the clutch to pull the Crusaders back from a 5 point deficit midway through the 4th quarter to win 58-55.
"When we play against bigger teams. We want to run, we want to attack." Bayside senior guard Austin Williams said.
The Commodores players clearly all took those words to heart and pushed the ball up the court early and often beating Lutheran defenders to the basket constantly. Daquaise Andrews sparked the Commodores getting to the basket in transition, and then turning around and nailing a wing three to help Bayside take a 18-12 lead after 1.
The lead grew to as much as 10 in the 2nd quarter with Long Island Lutheran not being able to set up their defense to stop the penetration of the Bayside guards. It was frustrating to Lutheran coach John Buck to see the poor play of his team early on.
"It was like when you wake up and just don't feel right, you have good days where you wake up and feel amazing, but you have those days you just don't have it, and it seemed to be one of those days for us." Buck said.
They did start to snap out of that funk late in the 2nd as Atkinson drained a straight away three after a Facey dunk to see Lutheran finish the half scoring 5 straight and close the Bayside lead to 30-26 at the break.
The Crusaders kept it going in the 3rd and briefly took the lead at 38-37 after beautiful reverse by Atkinson, but that was followed by an 8-0 run by Bayside that saw Buck pick up a technical foul for jawing with the referee. Andrews and Brandon King were instrumental in the run getting out on the wings on the break and hitting back to back threes in transition. It was in transition where the Commodores were making a living as they held onto the lead after three, 47-43.
All looked good for Bayside even halfway through the 4th. With 3:15 to go, they held a comfortable 53-48 lead, and it looked like a major win for the Commodores was on the way, but was it?
"You need to execute in the 4th, you can't hide, you need to show up." Williams said
Those words proved to be very true as Lutheran started to get chances to sit back in their zone more and dictate the pace, anytime Bayside would drive the lane it seemed Facey was there to block it. Tim Quashie would be another standout for the Crusaders late. He got in the lane and hit a couple important short jumpers to see Long Island Lutheran go on an 8-2 run to take a 56-55 lead with 1:13 to go.
Bayside did have chances but Cantrell Barker had the ball stolen on the right wing trying to make a move to the basket, and after Quashie made 1 of 2 from the FT line with 14 seconds left, Williams had hit shot blocked by Facey on a drive to the rim. Atkinson could've sealed it with 3 seconds left from the line, but he only managed 1 of 2 as well. Bayside inbounded the ball but the pass up the court was stolen and Long Island Lutheran came back for the 58-55 win.
Atkinson led all scorers with 18 points for Long Island Lutheran, with Facey almost bringing home a triple double adding 12 points. 12 rebounds and 9 blocks. Barker led Bayside with 15 points, while Andrews and Williams chipped in with 15 a piece.
It wasn't the prettiest of wins buy it was a win that the Atkinson admitted he would take.
"Even though we didn't play our best I was happy. We stayed together and showed mental toughness and stayed poised. That was big."
On the other side, it wasn't a loss that the Bayside side seemed content with at all. A boost of confidence wasn't something Bayside coach Cory Semper wanted to hear or discuss.
"Gain confidence? Why? Because we stayed with them? It was a winnable game for us. They aren't that much better than us and we lost." a frustrated Semper said.
It could be used for confidence for Long Island Lutheran though, on a day where they didn't bring their best game, Atkinson stepped up and showed that he truly is a star for the future, and proved he can be counted on when needed.
"I know when we play our best that we are unstoppable, and I hope I showed that when my team needs me, that I'm there."
IN OTHER ACTION:
Curtis 62- Princeton Day School (NJ) 58
Curtis fought back from a 15 point 2nd quarter deficit to chip away and take the lead late in the 3rd before holding n late for the 4 point victory. Hassan Martinwas a physically dominant big man inside scoring 24 points and pulling down 13 rebounds in the win for Curtis.
Defense was also big for the Warriors as the combination of Martin along with Tyler Summers and Jamal Olorunoje held Princeton's Miami bound big man Davon Reed to just 6 second half points to help Curtis pull out the important win.
Massanutten Military Academy (VA) 77- Vermont Academy (VT) 63
Deondre Burnett led all scorers with 25 points in the win, with Kansas bound point guard Frank Mason adding 15. Vermont was paced by New York's own Richard Williams had 15 points in defeat.