GLENS FALLS - Bradd Wierzbicki knew Kyle Neptune was a great player heading into the state Federation Class C semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center Friday and the Cathedral Prep boys' basketball team did everything it could to try and stop Brooklyn Friends' 6-foot-4 senior.
The Crusaders repeatedly switched up their defense from a box-and-one, a tandem-and-two, man-to-man and even attempted to press the Lehigh-bound forward.
It didn't work.
Neptune was two blocks shy of a triple-double, scoring 27 points, grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds and added 8 blocks and 4 steals to lead Brooklyn Friends to a 56-50 win over Cathedral Prep. The Quakers will face Buffalo City Honors (23-4), which defeated James Monroe, 69-63, in the Class C championship game Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
"We knew he was a good player, he's going D-I and we knew we had to stop him," said Wierzbicki, who scored a game-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds. "But he still found a way to score. It's what great players do."
Neptune buried a pair of three-pointers during an 11-3 third-quarter run that extended Brooklyn Friends' one-point halftime lead to 32-25 with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
"If we had to choose a poison, we'd rather him shoot from the outside," Cathedral Prep coach Frank McQuaid said of Neptune. "In the first half it was effective."
And in second half, Neptune was effective.
"This means everything, it's been the goal since Day One; we wanted to get to Glens Falls," said Neptune, who received 20 stitches in his lower lip to close a gash he suffered in a pickup game Wednesday. "This is a chance of a lifetime."
Added Brooklyn Friends coach Vladimir Malukoff: "It'll be a real statement about his leadership. He has already validated himself. This is a chance for him to show how good he is."
Wierzbicki has also proven he is a great player. On a reverse layup with 22 seconds left in the second quarter that gave Cathedral Prep (19-8) a 20-19 lead, the lanky 6-foot-1 senior became the all-time leading scorer in school history. And the leading scorer in the CHSAA almost rallied his team again as the Crusaders battled back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to cut Brooklyn Friends' lead to 51-46 on a Wierzbicki layup with 1:45 left.
"We never think we're out of a game and we got a lot of momentum in the fourth quarter," said Wierzbicki. "If we had an extra two minutes I think we would have won. But time just ran out on us."
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2003 Community News Group
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