Long Island Lutheran connected on eleven 3-pointers, nine in the first half, propelling the Crusaders past defending PSAL champs South Shore 76-56 in a highly anticipated high school hoops tilt at Adelphi University on Sunday.
Entering the game as the top-ranked team in New York State by the NYSSWA, LuHi certainly looked the part against a Vikings team that currently sits atop the PSAL's toughest division, the Brooklyn AA, at 8-1. South Shore was the runner-up in last year's New York State Federation Tournament, with LuHi being eliminated in the semifinals by eventual champions Archbishop Stepinac amid controversy over a scorebook error that resulted in a technical being assessed to LuHi for calling a timeout when the official scorebook mistakenly showed it had none left.
The Crusaders sprinted out of the gate, taking a 9-2 lead on a 3-pointer by Tyler Stephenson before South Shore answered with a 9-0 run of its own. A 3-pointer by Phillps Joseph knotted the score at 9 and Isaiah Richards' post finish on a delayed break gave South Shore its only lead of the game at 11-9 with 3:34 left in the opening quarter. LuHi Head Coach John Buck called for a timeout to regroup, and the Crusaders proceeded to close the quarter on an 11-1 run, taking a 20-12 lead at the end of the first.
LuHi continued to burn the nets from the perimeter in the second frame, as Stephenson and Jalen Celestine, each of whom drained a pair of triples in the opening quarter, repeated the feat in the second, with South Shore struggling to defend the perimeter, especially in the corners after dribble drive kickouts. With the defense drawn out, Andre Curbelo went to work attacking the rim, and his driving score with 4:38 to play in the half put LuHi ahead 32-19, causing South Shore to call for time. Dwight Davis Jr. (5) and Kadary Richmond (4) combined for 9 of South Shore's 14 second quarter points, but LuHi's surging offense earned them a comfortable 40-26 cushion at the half.
LuHi took its largest lead of the game at 55-33 after yet another 3-pointer by Celestine and a pair of free throws by Curbelo late in the third, and the Crusaders took a 57-41 advantage heading into the fourth.
South Shore pulled within 13 after Kareem May's 3-pointer with 4:22 left made it 61-48, and things looked like they would get interesting when Richmond's 3-point play narrowed the margin to 62-51 at the 4:07 mark, but the Vikings got no closer than that. A drop step by Essam Mostafa was the start of a strong LuHi finish, as the Crusaders outscored South Shore 14-5 the rest of the way.
Stephenson, Celestine and Curbelo finished with 22 points each to lead LuHi, now 11-1. Kareem May scored 11 points, all in the second half, and Kadary Richmond had 10 for South Shore. The Vikings continue their path on the grueling PSAL Brooklyn AA circuit on Tuesday, when they will host Robeson.