That was the game plan for Stepinac as they took on a big Mahopac squad in the first round of the Slam Dunk tournament.
Despite suffering from a severe size disadvantage, the Crusaders were able to rely on their guards to come away with a 66-44 win.
Naim Thomas led Stepinac with 16 points and 4 assists in just his second game back after a stress fracture in his foot kept him out of the first seven games. Demarcus Miller (pictured above) added 15 points. Josh James (pictured below right) had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. Brendan Hynes led the Indians with 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.
The Crusaders used their speed to force the Indians to play an uptempo game, something Mahopac struggled to do as they had 28 turnovers.
“In practice we go over a lot of double-teaming,” Thomas said. “Turnovers turn into fast break points and thats what we base our team off of.”
Stepinac was able to put together three runs of at least eight points in the second, third and fourth quarter thanks to Mahopac’s inability to protect the ball.
The Indians weren’t helped by the fact that Hynes was sidelined for most of the third quarter after getting into early foul trouble.
“When (Hynes) is out the game that’s just another ball handler, scorer and defender,” Thomas said. “That means we need to put more pressure on them.”
Thomas said he feels at about 90%.
“My wind that’s going to come within the next few games,” Thomas said. “Between practices and different workouts it should just come back soon.”
Stepinac will play Sunday against New Rochelle in the final at 7 p.m. Mahopac will play in the consolation against St. Mary’s at 1 p.m.
Miller, who is from New Rochelle and a cousin of Huguenot coach Rasaun Young, said after the game he hoped to play St. Mary’s in the final.
“I want to play the best of the best,” Miller said. “It will only make me better in the end.”
Photos courtesy of Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.