Long Island Lutheran's boys basketball team doesn't have to prove much to anyone as a top team in New York, but the Crusaders wanted to make a statement against New York City powerhouse Lincoln.
Leading by six points a minute into the third quarter, Lutheran senior swingman Tawayne Anderson stole the ball at midcourt from Lincoln standout Isaiah Whitehead and cruised to the basket for a one-handed slam dunk, bringing the Lutheran bench and crowd to their feet.
The momentum stayed with Lutheran throughout the second half as the Crusaders extended their lead to as many as 16 before holding on for a 58-49 win Sunday at home.
"The team said I never dunk so I wanted to do it and it felt good," the 6-4 Anderson said. "We had a trap on him and I saw the ball loose and went for it and dunked it. It was one of the bigger turning points in the game."
Lincoln, the Brooklyn high school that has produced NBA players such as Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson, entered the game ranked third in the tri-state by MSG Varsity. Lutheran was ranked fifth. The New York State Sportswriters Association had Lutheran ranked as the top team in the state in Class AA, with Lincoln ranked second.
"It's a matchup between two top teams in the state and that gave us something to look forward to," said Lutheran's 6-9 center Kentan Facey, who will play for Connecticut next season. "It was a huge game knowing their history and the fact that we're a Long Island team, it definitely means a lot."
Lutheran (19-2) outscored Lincoln 15-9 in the third quarter with Anderson scoring six of his team-high 13 points in the period. Tiquan Gardner's three-pointer with 43 seconds left in the third gave Lutheran a 12-point lead heading into the fourth.
Facey dominated the paint as he used his big frame to block and alter shots at the rim.
Lutheran played man-to-man throughout the first half but switched to a zone in the third quarter to slow Lincoln's attack.
"I thought we did a really great job against them in the half-court and that was our No. 1 key to the game," Lutheran coach John Buck said. "I thought if they saw [man defense] the whole time they'd start to adjust, so I started thinking that especially with the lead that a zone would be effective."
Anderson's three-pointer with 4:35 left in the fourth gave Lutheran its largest lead at 50-34; Lincoln (19-5) didn't get closer than 57-49 after a deep Whitehead three-pointer in the closing seconds.
Whitehead, a junior guard who has received interest from top Division I programs, scored 16 points to lead all scorers. Facey had 12 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks for Lutheran, and Tim Quashie added 11 points.
"It's really big for the program," Buck said. "It's our first year in [Class AA] and we want to play teams like Lincoln that we might see in the Federation. I'm very happy with our guys."