March 30, 2008

Railsplitters Win Back-to-Back Championships

GLENS FALLS, NY- Abraham Lincoln High School of Brooklyn, NY used a big second quarter to top Holy Cross on Sunday afternoon to win their second consecutive New York State Class AA Federation Championship by a score of 86-67.

Early in the championship game, Holy Cross went to the offensive glass hard, despite the fact that the Railsplitters held the size advantage in the frontcourt over them. Coach Dwayne Morton's squad controlled the tempo for much of the opening quarter. A fade-away jumper along the baseline with 3:05 remaining in the first quarter gave the Brooklyn school a 14-10 lead. Unheralded senior guard Kayvon Roberts kept the Knights in the game in the first quarter by knocking down a pair of deep threes. Lincoln junior phenom Lance Stephenson picked up a technical foul with 1:07 left in the first quarter when he delayed the game by throwing down a dun after a whistle had blown. The 6'6" junior sat on the bench for the rest of the half following the technical. The Railsplitters held a 19-14 heading into the second quarter at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Despite the lead, Lincoln found themselves in foul trouble, as Khalif Staten and James Padgett both picked up their second fouls early in the second session. A three pointer by Darwin "Buddha" Ellis with 5:14 left in the first half gave the PSAL-champions a 30-18 lead. With Ellis, Vincent Council and Timothy Flowers leading the Lincoln backcourt, the Brooklyn school sped up the pace of the game and took Holy Cross out of their rhythm. McDonald's All-American Sylven Landesberg didn't get many easy looks, as the Virginia-bound forward scored 13 hard earned points in the opening half. Coach Morton's team held a comfortable 42-26 advantage heading into the locker room at halftime. Senior forward Justin Greene led Lincoln in a balanced attack with 9 points, while the junior Stephenson added all 8 of his points in the first quarter. The ACC-bound Landesberg scored 13 points to lead Holy Cross in the first half.

Both teams traded baskets in the early portions of the third quarter. A three pointer from senior forward Tim Beinert trimmed the Lincoln lead to 53-41 with 4:14 left in the third quarter. However, Coach Paul Gilvary's squad couldn't find an answer for Lincoln's multi-faceted offense, as the Brooklyn squad maintained a double-digit lead throughout the third stanza. The Coney Island school held a 65-49 lead heading into the fourth and final quarter of the class AA championship game.

A Lance Stephenson lay-up with 5:32 to go in the fourth quarter gave the Railsplitters a 20-point advantage at 71-51. Lincoln would cruise from there to win their second New York State class AA Federation championship in a row, 86-67. The junior Stephenson led Lincoln and won tournament MVP with 16 points and 14 rebounds. The 6'6" Landesberg led Holy Cross in defeat with 31 points and 11 boards.

Following the game, the Lincoln coach Dwayne Morton reflected on the transformation of his senior big man, Justin Greene from his freshman year to being an all-tournament selection in this years Federation tournament. "He was not in shape (as a freshman) and he didn't look like a ball player "his better days are ahead of him," said Morton following the victory.

The junior Stephenson remained confident when he sat on the bench during the whole second quarter. "When I came out of the game, I wasn't scared or anything because I knew that they would step up," said the highly recruited forward.

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