LEWIS A STAR AMONG STARS FOR FALCONS

Al Vieira
Section: SPORTS,  Page: D1

Date: Wednesday, March 5, 1986

Given the 12-point final margin of victory, the temptation isto first look at the box score and search for Elander Lewis' name.


There you'll find he had 13 points - quite a few under his average of 22.4. More remarkable is what you don't find. Until the third quarter he had not scored a field goal, and into the fourth, when the Falcons had streaked to a 41- 32 lead, all but sealing sweet revenge, he was only 1 of 9 from the field. This, remember, is the ultra-smooth 6-foot-4 guard headed forLou Carnesecca's St. John's Redmen. He is the one who attracts the brightest lights on a team of neon.


Yet on a night when he was off, his Albany High teammates just shifted gears and put the ball in the hot hands of Derek Johnson and Roy Tibbs, then cemented the victory with a defense that made Shenendehowa's Dynamic Duo of Greg Koubek and BrendanO'Sullivan sweat for every pump fake.


That defense was so outstanding, that the tournament's Most Valuable Player award went to a guy who didn't even score in double figures in the championship game. Albany's 6-8 center Willie Foley scored only eight points, but clogged the middle so effectively, O'Sullivan didn't score a field goal in the second half. Koubek had only three.


"This should let a lot of people know we're not a one-man team," said Lewis. "We've been doing this all year. We just pick each other up."


Johnson, his socks stuffed tightly into his sneakers so they couldn't be seen (stylish, he says), scored 11 in the first half then turned the rest over to the defense.


"People had been saying if it wasn't a blowout, then Shenendehowa was going to win," said Johnson. "We didn't believe that.This is the new Albany High. We made believers out of everybody."


This one went against all predictions, not so much in the result, but in the way that result was achieved. Albany, it had been said, wanted an up- tempo game. High scoring. Run-and- gun.


Instead, the Falcons scored only 24 points in the first half - yet led by two.


"We play defense like this every night," said Johnson. "Maybenot as intense, but when you know your career is on the line,at least for the seniors, and this could be your last game, you try harder. Whatever they got tonight, they earned."


What they got wasn't much.


Jim Zullo's game plan is an easy one for Wednesday Morning Quarterbacks to critique. He had instructed his team to pass up outside shots and get the ball inside to Koubek and O'Sullivan. But considering the strength of those two players, and how they had carried the Plainsmen here, his strategy is hard to fault.


Credit Albany High with taking away what other Shenendehowa opponents had vainly tried to take away 23 times previously.


"We thought our five guys could beat their two guys," Albany Coach Paul Lyons said.


Simplistic as that sounds, it was deadly accurate.


In their biggest game, the Falcons didn't need their biggest star. They had others to go to. Shenendehowa did not.


That's why Albany High will play some more, and Shenendehowa will go home and get ready for the football season.


"I can't dominate on a team like this," said Lewis. "There are too many weapons."


Yet when he finally found the range in the fourth quarter, making three of his four field goals, his teammates were quick to go to him. He stuck an 18- foot jump shot (43-32), dropped one from 15 (46-38) then snuck into the lane after a missed freethrow and tipped in the offensive rebound. The Falcons were up by 10 with just over a minute to play.


"Even though he wasn't hot, I kept going to him," said point guard Corey Dace. "Since he wasn't in the flow early, we had to start going to other people, but I knew he'd find the range.


"I tried to be more patient, because I knew if we were patient, we would win."


And they would have, even without