Yesterday evening, the boys’ basketball team withstood a late rally to top #2 seed Long Island Lutheran, 51-47, in the PSAA quarterfinals. It was the first playoff victory for the Bears since a 54-45 win over Mercy on Feb. 16, 2018 and their first road playoff win since a 68-66 thriller over Wyandanch in 1996, though the Bears have had only four away playoff games since then.
The Bears fell behind 4-6 early after a pair of LuHi 3-pointers. A Gustav Skogsjo trifecta gave the Brook a 7-6 edge, but a LuHi dunk a pair of layups gave them a 7-12 advantage. Oskar Humpert answered with a baseline drive and dunk and Nick Zemitis followed with a 3-point play to even the score at 12-12. Humpert capped a 7-0 spurt with a layup, but LuHi hit a layup in the closing seconds to tie the score at 14-14 after one.
Skogsjo opened the second frame with a 3-pointer, but a 6-0 spurt from the hosts gave them back a 20-17 lead. Randolph Logan’s offensive rebound and layup preceded another Skogsjo long ball as the Brook retook a 22-20 advantage, but LuHi closed the half with a 6-2 run to take a 26-24 edge into the break.
The Bear offense clicked in the third as they outscored Lutheran 15-4 in the frame. An Osazee Alapa 3-pointer knotted the score at 27-27 before Zemitis gave the Bears the lead for good with a 3-pointer on the next possession. LuHi answered with a layup and the Bears followed with a pair of free throws and an Alapa drop step layup for a 34-29 lead. After a pair of LuHi free throws, Zemitis hit his second trifecta of the frame before Alapa closed the quarter with a jumper as the Bears took a 39-31 cushion into the fourth.
Humpert opened the final frame with a tip in as the Bear lead hit double-digits for the first time. LuHi answered with a drive and finish, but a pair of strong drives from Edwards gave the Brook their biggest lead of the day at 45-33. LuHi closed back within nine on their next two possessions, but each time Zemitis answered with a jumper to stem the tide. The Bears maintained an 11-point lead with just 2:19 remaining, but made the job harder on themselves with a series of miscues. Over the final 2:07, they committed four turnovers and missed the front end of two 1-and-1s, allowing LuHi to carve their deficit back to 47-50 with less than 30 seconds remaining. Lutheran’s best player missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and Edwards snared a big rebound before mercifully banking in the first shot of a 1-and-1 to quiet the rowdy LuHi crowd. Two meaningless Lutheran 3-pointers caromed off the rim in the closing seconds as the Bears pulled out their second gutsy four-point win at LuHi in the last five days.
Zemitis led the Bears with 14 points and was aided by a balanced attack: Humpert (10), Skogsjo (10), Alapa (8), Edwards (7), Logan (2). The Bears move on to the PSAA semifinals and travel to #1 Portledge this afternoon with a trip to the championship on the line.