ALBANY – Lincoln star Isaiah Whitehead struggled at Albany’s Times Union Center Friday night far more than he had at the Garden.
Long Island Lutheran made Whitehead work for every one of his 21 points — 10 of which came at the free throw line, and a good portion when victory was already out of reach in the state Federation Class AA semifinal game. Lincoln’s season came to an end 73–55.
Railsplitter forwards Desi Rodriguez and Elijah Davis, who saved the day in the city championship game, were neutralized in Albany by foul trouble — and the Crusaders’ UConn-bound Kentan Facey’s 10 blocked shots.
“My teammates and me, we all just weren’t finishing at the rim because of Facey’s presence and long arms,” Whitehead said.
The Railsplitters, which got 10 points from Shaquille Davis, shot just 25.9 percent from the field. Facey finished with a triple double, tallying 19 points and 15 rebounds to go with his blocks. Whitehead admitted there was a let down after wining the schools first city title.
“We wanted to run New York City,” Whitehead said. “We really didn’t understand how big states was. Coach was telling us, but we really didn’t understand it.”
Railsplitters coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton was pleased with the season as a whole, but didn’t see the same focus in his club in the weeks leading up to state as he had for the city final. Morton wanted them to be more deliberate running their offense after losing to LuHi earlier in the season and he encouraged them to attack Facey.
“We had to bring the game to him and we didn’t do it as hard as I wanted us to do,” Morton said. “I didn’t want to shy away and shoot jumpers all day.”
Lincoln (26–6) trailed just 28–26 at the half, but then watched LuHi rattle off a 13–3 to start the third quarter and grab a 41–29 advantage with 4:06 remaining in the frame. The Railsplitters got back in the game on a Trevonn Morton put back and 1 of 2 free throws from Whitehead to get as close as 51–42 with 5:46 left in the game. But then the Crusaders (25–2) scored six straight points to regain control.
Dwayne “Tiny” Morton had hoped for more. “I wanted to finish out on top,” he said.
Whitehead, who had Kentucky coach John Calipari watching him, said his team will be back in Albany next year and will learn from this experience. He and Morton both described the season as a roller coaster that still pleases them overall, despite not winning a game in Albany.
“I’m satisfied, but we could have done more,” Whitehead said. “We got to live with what we got and that’s a city championship.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk
©2013 Community News Group
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