The script was set, as former Long Island juggernaut-turned afterthought Lutheran was poised to make its re-emergence onto the scene under first-year coach Brian Carey, with the Crusaders ducking into a hostile gym and getting it done.
The problem was, nobody let Andrew Beinert in on the act.
Beinert's near-halfcourt heave at the buzzer- measured at 60 feet by Chaminade assistant coach Bob Paul- gave the Flyers a stunning 56-55 victory.
Down 55-53 with 2.6 seconds remaining, Chaminade fouled Lutheran guard Jeriel Henriquez on the inbound. In a one-and-one situation, Henriquez back-rimmed the first shot. It fell into the hands of Chaminade's Robert Koster near the circle, who pitched it to Beinert on the wing. Weaving through a pair of defenders, Beinert took a couple of dribbles, and let it fly.
And down it went.
The senior guard was mobbed at halfcourt by a red-and-gold contingent from the student section that poured out of the stands.
It was a miraculous finish to a game that invoked memories of Long Island battles past.
After a nip and tuck first half, Lutheran had gained some traction with a 13-3 run out of the locker room, keyed by six points from Henriquez, to take a 44-30 lead with 3:45 to play in the third. The junior, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard and transfer from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, finished with 18 points, and buoyed Lutheran with his outside shooting in the first half, facing a 3-2 zone, while proving hard to contain off the dribble.
The Flyers still had a couple of runs left in them.
Pecking away at the lead, 6-foot-5 senior forward John Dumas closed the third quarter with a three-pointer, and then dropped another three to open the fourth, as Chaminade drew to 46-43 with 7:20 to play. The Flyers took their first lead since the early going when Koster found a cutting Beinert, who went off glass to give Chaminade a 49-48 edge with 5:02 to play.
Lutheran seemed to have a answer for every Chaminade mini-run. Stony Brook transfer Matt Rooney hit a pair of clutch shots from long-range down the stretch, sinking a deep two-pointer to put Lu-Hi up 50-49 with 4:49 to play, and a three-pointer for a 53-51 edge with 4:13 to play.
Chaminade had its opportunities late. Down 55-51 with inside of two minutes, Beinert failed to convert on a bullish drive to the rim, while senior point guard Conor Sheehy saw his pull-up rim out on the following possession.
Following a charging call on Rooney, the Flyers pulled to within 55-53 with :03 seconds to play on Koster's putback of senior Chris Fisher's miss.
Beinert and Fisher, a 6-foot-4 power forward, led Chaminade with 17 points. Beinert didn't have an especially strong shooting day over all, but he is a stabilizing influence who always provides a boost with his decision-making, patience, and savvy. He doesn't force the action. The Holy Cross-bound senior did a commendable defensive job on Henriquez when Chaminade switched to man-to-man to open the fourth quarter, holding him scoreless.
Fisher showed a nice inside-outside game, with a strong mid-range touch.
Koster, a 6-foot-6 senior, showed good presence of mind in the post. Sheehy is a steady hand at the point who takes good care of the ball, while Dumas is a viable perimeter threat at 6-foot-5.
Henriquez is a Division I talent. The junior is exceptionally quick, but showed that he was very capable shooting the ball on Monday night, and showed the ability to do it off of the bounce. He shot 3-for-5 from behind the arc on the night.
Carey has some other nice pieces to this team, which is composed largely of transfers. Kellenberg transfer Richie Harkins, is a tough, smart point guard who can run a team. Rooney has the look of a shooting specialist, and showed that he was a legitimate threat from deep off of the catch. 6-foot-5 sophomore Shamar Stephen is a physical presence in the post, with a big frame and good hands, while scoring guard Kevin Johnson also looks to be a promising addition.