OYSTER BAY, NY - Saturday night's L.I. Challenge featured a match-up between two ranked teams from NYC and Long Island. St Mary's of Manhasset, NY squared off against the Bishop Loughlin Lions of Brooklyn.
At the onset, the game appeared to be a blowout, one in which the crowd would file out by the third quarter-this quickly changed. St. Mary's Gaels, the team who got pummeled early on made a furious comeback attempt in the second half but fell just short 77-73.
6'0" freshmen Devonte Green started things off right from the tip for St. Mary's with a sick pull-up three point shot-all net right down the middle. Loughlin came out playing a brutal full court trap defense. Soon after hitting another 3 point shot, Green committed a foolish foul on Khadeen Carrington as he took a three point shot-Carrington went on to make 2 of the 3 shots at the line which gave his team an early 8-5 lead.
As the quarter progressed, both teams shot a ton of threes, missing on most attempts. With 4:30 left in the first, the game remained close with Bishop Loughlin holding on to a narrow 10-8 lead. Green continued to dazzle with fancy crossovers, a pair of threes, and a couple of floaters throughout the quarter. This kept the Gaels close but this soon changed. Loughlin stopped shooting the three ball and resorted to attacking the basket. Loughlin quickly extended their lead to 18-10 while St. Mary's continued to brick threes.
Loughlin found themselves up 20-12 with 1:19 remaining and it appeared as if Mary's was in trouble. Head Coach Bill Harkins told his team to play a 2-3 zone and this put Loughlin's drive to the basket at bay but Loughlin soon adjusted and jumped out to a 27-15 lead off an Isaak Boden corner three and a buzzer beating hook shot by Anthony Keenan.
In the second quarter, St. Mary's came out playing hard but Loughlin appeared to be playing harder. The Brooklyn squad began to dominate the quarter, starting with two consecutive threes by Mike Williams which propelled his team to a commanding 33-17 lead. This forced Mary's to call a timeout to regroup. The Gaels continued to try to calm the storm by feeding big man Jessie Govan in the post but he struggled to find the basket all night.
The Lions continued to put the pressure on. With 3:20 left in the quarter, Williams threw a long distance alley oop to Carrington who stuffed the ball down ferociously, giving Loughlin a 17 point lead. Williams would then hit a corner three which ballooned their lead to 20. The game looked over at halftime as Loughlin led in a dominant fashion, 49-32.
From the very beginning of the third quarter something was clearly different about St. Mary's. They came out with a fire in their eyes and their play showed it. Harkins adjusted their strategy and it worked. Govan started the quarter with an inside lay-up and one. A couple of baskets by Green and Steven Millhaven cut down Bishop Loughlin's lead down to 14 with 6:16 left in the third.
Millhaven began to play like a man possessed throughout this quarter and scored various lay-ups in the paint. By the end of the third Mary's trailed only by 6 points 57-51. It was once again a dogfight.
St. Mary's came out in the fourth powered by the phenomenal play of Millhaven who continued to score lay-up after lay-up. However, Carrington and Williams were too much in the end. While St. Mary's continued to try to edge away at the lead, Loughlin always had an answer.
With 1:55 to go, Loughlin led 71-54 and never looked back.
Carrington led Bishop Loughlin with 22 points. Millhaven led all scorers with 25 points for St. Mary's followed by Green with 18 points.