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Federation: Long Island Lutheran vs. Christ the King

Long Island Lutheran's Essam Mostafa drives to the basket against Christ the King during Saturday's Class AA boys final of the Federation Tournament of Champions.

GLENS FALLS — Long Island Lutheran captured its eighth Federation Tournament of Champions boys basketball title — and first in Class AA — with a convincing 51-31 victory over Christ the King on Saturday night.

Tournament MVP Andre Curbelo was unstoppable for the second straight night, as the Crusaders’ junior point guard scored a game-high 23 points and collected 10 rebounds and five steals to lead the way.

“I’ve had great teams and together teams, but I’ve never had a team that was as together as this,” said LuHi head coach John Buck, whose team won its first Federation title since 2012. “They love each other, they don’t care who does what, and they play basketball for the right reason — the joy of the game.”

Leading by six heading into the fourth quarter, the Crusaders (25-2) erupted for a 20-6 run through the fourth quarter to win the championship. LuHi erupted in joyous celebration, the entire team jumping up and down in a mob of excitement as the final buzzer sounded.

“Andre took us to a place we’ve never been,” said Buck, referring to LuHi’s first Class AA Federation crown. Curbelo is being heavily recruited by Division I powers, and currently has 17 offers, Buck added.

LuHi’s Essam Mostafa and Jalen Celestine joined Curbelo on the all-tournament team. Mostafa finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Celestine added 10 points for LuHi.

“I challenged them at halftime — I said, ‘Win the game within a 5-foot radius of the rim,” Buck said. “And that’s what they did.”

The Crusaders faced a tall order in Christ the King’s 6-foot-11 Moussa Cisse, but he was held to four rebounds and 10 points, all on dunks.

LuHi used a 13-0 run in the first quarter — getting nine points from Curbelo — to seize the early lead.

The Crusaders led by as much as 11 in the second quarter, but Christ the King clawed back with a quick 7-1 burst, only to be stopped again by a pair of Curbelo foul shots and a 3 by Celestine.

The Royals were held to 26 percent shooting (7 for 27) in the first half.

Christ the King chipped back into the game behind Cisse, who threw down three dunks, including an alley-oop, to pull the Royals within 31-25 at the end of the third quarter.

The loss denied CTK the chance to sweep the boys and girls titles, as it did in 2010.

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Follow Pete Tobey on Twitter @PTobeyPSVarsity.

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reporter

Covering high school and minor-league sports in Section II since 1989. SUNY Plattsburgh grad. Colleen's lesser half. Three amazing young people call me Dad. Fan of Philadelphia Eagles, New York Rangers and Mets, and Syracuse Orange.

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