Leading off today:
We have our winner for the strangest ending to a game in the 2017-18 school year.
"I'm just kind of speechless with how the game ended," Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni said.
Trailing by two with 8.3 seconds to play, Archbishop Stepinac pulled out a 76-72 victory over Long Island Lutheran on Friday in the Federation boys Class AA basketball semifinals at Cool Insuring Arena in Glena Falls.
Stepinac hit six straight free throws in the final 8.3 seconds to advance to Saturday's title gam.
LuHi's Donatas Kupsas had made a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to take a 72-70 advantage -- the team's first lead since midway through the first quarter. Following a Stepinac timeout, Alan Griffin (18 points) was fouled near halfcourt with 8.3 seconds to play. He cashed in both free throws to tie the game, and that's when the craziness commenced: The Long Island Lutheran bench called a timeout it did not have, triggering a technical foul.
"Our book had me having a timeout left," LuHi coach John Buck told reporters immediately after the game. "Four of my assistant coaches had me having a timeout left. I've coached 10 years now. In my gut, I felt I had a timeout left. I didn't take a timeout in the first half. I'll go watch the film and if I'm wrong I'll admit it, but my gut and our communication right now believes I had a timeout left."
Several hours after the game, Buck spoke to Newsday and said his suspicions were confirmed after reviewing video of the game.
"We took five timeouts, and our last timeout was with eight seconds left in a tie game," he said. "We were assessed a technical foul on our fifth timeout. I cannot accept that a book error takes a chance at a state title away from our players.
"My athletic director (Todd Huebner) and I are filing a letter of protest with the Federation. I don't know if this something they can correct."
After the technical foul triggered a lengthy discussion at the scorers table, Griffin hit the two free throws. The Crusaders then inbounded to sophomore R.J. Davis, who was fouled and hit two more at the line.
Davis finished 14-for-14 for the line as part of a 27-point performance, Stepinac made 25 of 26 free throws in all.
LuHi's Kupsas finished with 20 points and Tykei Greene had 16.
"I've lost where we were a little selfish or didn't make enough plays down the stretch," Buck said. "I've never lost like this. It's not even anger. It's confusion. I'm confused. Our guys fought hard. We deserved to have a chance to make that play at the end of the game."
The other semifinal proved to be an anti-climatic finish to the opening day of the tournament. South Shore took command in the opening minutes and rolled past Liverpool 80-48.
Senior Sekou Sylla put up 10 points and 16 rebounds in the win. Junior Femi Odukale scored 13.
Girls Class AA: Christ the King is one win away from a perfect season after defeating South Shore 59-49 in a semifinal that amounted to the New York City championship game.
It moved the Royals, who ascended to No. 1 in USA Today's national rankings this week, to within one victory of a perfect season. Having already taken out the defending Federation champion, Christ the King will meet Baldwin in Saturday's final.
Christ the King started off showing all the rust one might expect for a team that went two games between games. South Shore rode senior Diamond Shavis' eight points to a 13-3 lead late in the first quarter and pulled away for a 29-15 lead in the second before the 15-time tournament champions finally responded by cutting it to 31-27 at the break.
"The goal was to be down six by the half and we thought if we could do that we would be in striking distance," coach Bob Mackey said. "We needed to make the game simple though, we were making the game way too complicated and I felt the last 2:23 of the half we settled it down and got back in it."
A putback by junior Klarke Sconiers with 4:54 left in the third quarter gave Christ the King its first lead, and the Royals were on their way to a 46-35 lead to start the fourth quarter before a South Shore resurgence.