Stephenson, Kelly Provide Lincoln Victory

Reporter Mike Sullivan was at St. John's University tonight to watch Lincoln compete against Canarsie ...

When discussing the individual game of Lance Stephenson of Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., many first refer to his offensive skills. But tonight, at St. John's University on Carnesecca Court, Stephenson delivered a big-time defensive gem. It may not seem like he did because Nathaniel Lester finished with a game-high 30 points.

But Stephenson's ability to make Canarsie star Lester work for every point and some clutch shooting from Vance Kelly led Lincoln past Canarsie, 65-61, in one semifinal PSAL playoff game.

Stephenson, considered one of the best underclassmen in the country, was given the challenge of trying to make Lester, a prolific scorer for the Chiefs, work for every point.

Lester managed to get going a bit in the fourth, acculumating several big baskets and foul shots. Give Lester credit. The Hofstra recruit is a big time player too. And he continued to work and move to get himself free for shots.

Canarsie did get off to a solid start helped by Lester's two three-pointers in the first quarter. The Chiefs led 14-11 after the first quarter and held a slim 26-25 advantage heading into the third quarter.

The inside skills of Justin Greene and Kelly's perimeter shooting helped Lincoln open up a 42-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Greene finished with 15 points, all from around the rim. Kelly drained five three-pointers to help along his 20 total points.

Lester caught fire in the fourth. But there wasn't enough time to overcome a tough first three quarters of play. At times Canarsie appeared to be unsure of a way to score with Lester being hounded so effectively. The battle between Stephenson and Lester was an intriguing one. Both players proved they are going to be terrific college players someday.

Lincoln won the war for sure. They will take on Boys & Girls High School of Brooklyn, N.Y. Sunday at Madison Square Garden for the PSAL championship.

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