Franklin K. Lane High School was in control against fifth-seeded Roosevelt High School, and held a 50-40 lead at the end of three quarters. Unfortunately for No. 12 Lane (18-7), there was still one quarter to be played. Roosevelt (22-2) went on a decisive 30-13 spurt in the final quarter to eliminate the defending PSAL B champions, 70-63, on Saturday afternoon at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.
Senior Robert Villanueva, one of the best players in the league, picked up his fourth foul with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter, sending him to the bench with Lane leading, 40-32.
The Knights still managed to hold on to the lead without Villanueva until the end of the quarter and actually extended the lead to 10 points. Without the 6-foot-5-inch Villanueva crashing the boards, Anurada Heenpella filled in by grabbing two offensive boards and scoring on both to help the Knights maintain the lead.
"They were beating us to loose balls," Roosevelt head coach Vaughn Dweck said. "They played extremely well for three quarters. The big difference was their big guy (Villanueva) had four fouls."
Roosevelt began hitting their stride in the fourth quarter scoring two quick baskets, forcing Lane head coach Howard Furman to bring back Villanueva earlier then he planned with 6:58 left.
"I saw the game going," Furman said. "I had to take a chance. The one player we can't afford to lose is Robert. That hurts."
Playing with four fouls in the fourth quarter, Villanueva wasn't the same player he was in the first half when he scored with ease. He was forced to be less aggressive, scoring only three points of his 20 in the final quarter.
"They kept doubling me," Villanueva said. "The rest of the players were tired. We just slacked off. We had the game. They came out stronger in the fourth."
Roosevelt took its first lead of the second half when Mark Felder (16 points) scored on a fast break layup to put the Roughriders ahead, 53-52, with 5:25 left. Felder was fouled on the play and hit the free throw for a two-point lead as Roosevelt opened the quarter on a 13-3 run.
Lane regained the lead on two consecutive three's by Kobi Powdar. The game was tied at 63 with 1:46 left, but Lane was unable to score the rest of the way as four turnovers in the final minute did them in. Roosevelt went 6-of-8 from the free-throw line to clinch the win, closing the game out on a 7-0 run. Sammy Mejia went 4-for-4 from the line in the final minute and scored a game-high 28 points.
"They started pressuring us and we couldn't move the ball," Furman said. "It has been a struggle against teams that pressure us. Our passes started going to the wrong people. They started picking up people sooner and were hitting shots they didn't hit early in the game. The problem was we weren't getting Robert the ball where we wanted him to get it."
"We went to man-to-man instead of the press," Dweck said. "We wanted to make them earn it because we weren't getting too many steals. We know they are the defending champs and they had experience and wouldn't go down without a fight. The playoffs are about survival."
In the first half, Lane was able to break the press, scoring many points in transition. Lane led at the end of the first, 16-14. Villanueva ignited Lane in the second quarter, scoring 12 points to give them a 36-28 advantage at the half. Villanueva opened the quarter with seven straight points, the last two coming on a slam-dunk.
Roosevelt will take on Bronx Science in the quarterfinals.
©2000 Community News Group
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