Kentan Facey provided a glimpse of why he was recruited and signed by the University of Connecticut before his senior season even began.
The 6-9 forward from the isle of Jamaica led Long Island Lutheran to a 61-54 victory over host Farmingdale Tuesday night in a non-league matchup of two of the Island's best teams. Facey scored 23 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked five shots and altered several more for the Crusaders (5-1), who led by as many as 18 points late in the third quarter before getting sloppy and allowing the Dalers (1-1) to make it interesting at the end.
"Kentan's gotten a lot better," Lutheran coach John Buck said of a player recruited more for his upside than for his flashy high school statistics. He averaged only about 10 points per game last season but was a defensive presence for the state Class A Federation champions. Tuesday night he was a legitimate defensive force. "His touch around the basket improved and so has his nose for the ball," Buck said.
That was evident early, as Facey scored after an offensive rebound, converted a dunk on a pick-and-roll and hit two foul shots after another putback to spark Lutheran to a 19-6 first-quarter advantage.
Lutheran's defense, led by Chris Atkinson at the point (10 points, five steals), was also feisty in that opening period, forcing six turnovers. After that, however, the Crusaders weren't sharp. Tawayne Anderson and Mical-Ryan Boyd added nine points each. "Our offensive execution stopped after the first quarter," Buck said.
Farmingdale's leading scorer, Dalique Mingo, was held without a field goal all night, but the Dalers proved to be resilient anyway. Matt DiCarlo scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as Farmingdale cut the deficit to 59-52 with 1:23 left. But Kevin Petit-Frere, fresh off an outstanding football season for the Nassau I champions, missed a corner three-point attempt with 40 seconds left that essentially ended the comeback, which also featured 12 points from another Dalers football star, Curtis Jenkins.
"Even when they were down, their energy stayed consistent," Buck said. "That's how they got back into the game."