Okeke posts double-double as Dragons advance to FAA final
Updated 8:28 pm, Friday, February 21, 2014
He just made it look simple.
Okeke had 19 points and 14 rebounds as GFA reached the FAA final for the second consecutive season with a 73-55 win over the Storm on Friday night. The Dragons will travel to Masters -- which defeated Rye Country Day 64-48 in the other semifinal -- on Saturday at 4 p.m. for a chance to claim back-to-back championships.
"I guess this year's theme has been taking nothing for granted," GFA coach Doug Scott said. "Last year we felt pressured to win, and this year is like any time we get close, it seems like it's icing on the cake. To see our guys step up the way we did was very gratifying."
Okeke squared off with St. Luke's Ami Lakoju, an outstanding center who will attend Fairfield in the fall. Lakoju had 11 points and eight blocks, but was saddled in foul trouble for the entire second half and only played sparingly.
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"To stay out of foul trouble was the key, everything after that was gravy," Scott said. "Ami is a dominating big man but he's not a big scorer for them. The key is if you can guard him single, then you can keep a hand in the face of all their shooters."
GFA used a big second half to pull away. A 3-point play by Lakoju early in the second half tied the game at 35, but it was all Dragons from there. GFA scored the next seven points and steadily increased its lead for the rest of the game.
"We got steamrolled," Storm coach Brian Kriftcher said. "(GFA) is an excellent team. I don't think we helped the cause that much. The team that is less comfortable over the course of a game is going to lose. They made us more uncomfortable than we made them."
Okeke took over offensively in the second half, scoring 12 points over the final 16 minutes. Zach Baines led all scorers with 20 points while Matt Tate and Jimmy Djema each added 15."
The Dragons stormed out of the gate, beginning the game on a 21-6 run, during which they seemingly couldn't miss from the floor and all five starters scored buckets. St. Luke's then clawed back into the game. JB Boggs, who scored all of his 13 points in the first half, scored nine during a four-minute stretch late in the first half to bring the Storm to within 27-26.
"(The key was) breaking the press," Scott said of his team's second half outburst. "We were sloppy in our discipline in the first half and we got focused in the second half. It's a press game: you're going to get runs one way or another. I asked the guys do they want to break the press or get broken by the press."
The Storm finished their FAA season 16-8. With other leagues across the region yet to finish their schedules, it is uncertain whether or not St. Luke's will particulate in the New England tournament, which is set to begin next week. St. Luke's went 5-11 last season and 2-20 the year before.
"It was a very good season," Kriftcher said. "We improved dramatically and we played well. Whether we made New Englands or not we had a successful season."
Jalen Latta scored 12 points for St. Luke's.
Greens Farms Academy 73, St. Luke's 55
ST. LUKE'S 32 23 -- 55
GFA 32 41 -- 73
ST. LUKE'S (16-8, 11-5 FAA)
Jalen Latta 6 0-1 12 Kevin Florio 3 2-2 10 Ami Lakoju 5 1-1 11 Sean Cullinane 1 0-0 2 JB boggs 6 0-0 13 Jordan Seehan 1 0-0 3 Jonas Harper 2 0-0 4. Totals: 24 3-4 55.
GFA (19-3, 14-2)
3-pointers: StL -- Florio 2, Boggs, Seehan; GFA --Tate 2, Djema.