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Monday, Jan. 12, 2015: No. 1 L.I. Lutheran beats No. 2 Thomas Jefferson

   Leading off today: Junior guard Devonte Green scored a game-high 23 points and played a key role on defense as Long Island Lutheran defeated Thomas Jefferson 75-62 on Sunday in a matchup of the state's top two boys basketball teams in Queens.

   Long Island Lutheran is ranked first and Thomas Jefferson second by the New York State Sportswriters Association. LuHi was coming off a win Saturday against Albany Academy, ranked No. 2 in Class A.

   Green limited Jefferson Shamorie Ponds to 16 points, nearly 10 under his average for the top PSAL team. Ponds scored 44 points against Cardinal Hayes and 37 vs. Abraham Lincoln this season.

   "I think what all the top rated guys have in common is we can all score," Green told MSG Varsity. "But I think my defense stands out and it's what makes me better than some of the other players."

   Said LuHi coach John Buck: "He has so many tools to be a great defender. Slowly, but surely, he's becoming that. He's tremendous when he puts his mind to it."

   Green limited Ponds to just three first-half points as the Crusaders built a 35-24 lead, but Ponds scored four second-half points before a second ticked off the clock, making all the free throws after two LuHi players were assessed technical fouls four dunking during warmups. Ponds then scored while getting fouled and made another bucket to tie the game at 38 with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

   From there, LuHi went on an 18-2 burst and carried a 58-43 lead into the fourth quarter. Jefferson could not get the gap under nine the rest of the way.

   "It was a good test for the guys," Buck said. "They answered it."

   More boys basketball: With teammate Rawle Alkins weakened by the flu, Christ the King guard Jose Alvarado scored 25 points to lead the Royals to a 76-64 victory over Cardozo.

   Christ the King, the reigning Federation champion, is ranked seventh in Class AA by the NYSSWA. Cardozo, the defending PSAL champ, is ranked fifth.

   "It's hard playing sick, but he said don't worry about me, just play the game," Alvarado said of Alkins, who scored nine points after being blanked in the first half. "Everybody wants to have a game like that every game, but it was just a good game for me tonight."

   Alvarado made two free throws following a foul with a second left and two more following a technical foul to give the Royals the 34-30 halftime lead. After allowing a 3-pointer to open the third quarter, Christ the King went on a 14-0 run.

   "I thought that because I have so many guys, that they got worn down a little bit and we were able to go on that run in the third," Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello told The Daily News. "I'm a lucky guy, I've got Division I guys coming off the bench. So on a day when Rawle doesn't play great, we've got guys stepping up."

   Big performances: Rai Benjamin of Mount Vernon beat two national champions in the 400 meters on Saturday at the Hispanic Games at The Armory. The UCLA recruit clocked 47.76 seconds to beat New Balance Indoor champion Richard Rose of Boys & Girls (:48.66) and New Balance Outdoor champ Josephus Lyles of Virginia (:48.76).

   Benjamin was one of 10 winners to move to No. 1 on the U.S. high school list for the indoor season.

   Among them was Greenwich senior Jeremy Spiezio, who moved to No. 6 on the state's all-time indoor list for the mile with a win in 4:10.92 to qualify for the Millrose Games. Conor Lundy of Fordham Prep (4:12.09) and Mike

Brannigan of Northport (4:13.20) were second and third, respectively.

   Arlington's Bella Burda locked down the girls Millrose mile berth with a win in 5:01.25.

   Brenessa Thompson of Medgar Evers (:06.95 in the 55 meters) and Amanda Crawford of Paul Robeson (:55.63 in the 400) also moved to the top of the US lists.

   Streak snapped: After 14 seasons and 195 matches without a loss, the Ward Melville girls fencing team finally fell Tuesday at the hands of Commack by a 14-13 score. The Patriots have won 14 straight Suffolk County titles.

   Interestingly enough, Long Island's longest active streak in the sport now belongs to the Ward Melville boys with 129 straight victories.

   Newsday delved into the subject of streaks and found out from coaches it's sometimes about more than raw talent and good instruction.

   "There's so many factors," said St. Anthony's football coach Rich Reichert. "And talent and coaching is the key but there are going to be times when you need a little luck. You need the ball to bounce your way."

   Long Island's all-time streak belongs to Miller Place's badminton team, which finally lost in 2005 after 504 wins over 32 years and featured a co-ed lineup.

   Individually, Shoreham-Wading River wrestler Jesse Jantzen won 163 straight bouts from 1996-2000, and the four-time state champ never lost after his eighth-grade season. Ward Melville wrestler Nick Piccininni, in search of his own state-meet four-peat, is riding a 153-match win streak.

   "I never look past the opponent in front of me," Piccininni said. "Too many things can go wrong."

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