WESTPORT >> It took a few minutes into the second half but the Greens Farms Academy boys’ basketball team finally found a comfortable pace to play at offensively and defensively.
Friday evening at Coyle Gymnasium, the Dragons broke open a tie game against St. Luke’s early in the second half highlighted by a 7-0 run, and never allowed the Storm a chance to get back in.
Greens Farms defeated St. Luke’s 73-55 to advance to the Fairchester Athletic Association Championship game for the second straight season.
The Dragons will face Masters (N.Y.) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
“The team that is least comfortable over the course of the game, is most of the time, going to lose,” St. Luke’s head coach Bria Kriftcher said. “They (GFA) made us more uncomfortable.”
Added GFA guard Jim Djema: “We were playing at their speed. I think we just needed to regroup.”
It was a simple solution but one that worked for GFA. Holding just a three-point lead at the half, the Dragons came out with a crisper and well-executed press-breaker that allowed for more transition points and a solid flow offensively the final 16 minutes of play.
“The difference was really working hard and hitting the open gaps in the press,” Djema said. “We got a lot of fast breaks and also just picked it up on defense.”
The Dragons struck from inside and out as the guard combination of Djema and Matt Tate created set a nice flow to the game. Djema and Tate each scored 15 points, while Djema added seven assists.
“Matt Tate is probably the headiest guard in our league,” Kriftcher said. “He never gets flustered; he never tries to do too much. They played better tonight.”
Greens Farms was also able to take advantage in the second half inside the paint. St. Luke’s post player Ami Lakaju battled foul trouble, and played sparingly in the second half. He finished with 11 points, five of those coming in the final half.
The Dragons’ post player Sunday Okeke and Zach Baines took advantage underneath creating second chance points and establishing a presence.
With less than six minutes to play, Baines completed a 3-point play to give GFA a 56-42 advantage and put the game out of reach.
Baines led all scorers with 20 points, while Okeke added 19 and 14 rebounds.
“It’s a whole different ball game when he’s out of the game,” Djema said of Lakaju.
The Dragons’ defense also applied more pressure as St. Luke’s struggled offensively in the final 16 minutes. Greens Farms did a nice job of limiting the Storms’ offensive possessions to one.
St. Luke’s was paced by JB Boggs’ 13 points. Teammate Jalen Latta added 12.
The Dragons will get a shot at redemption against Masters, as they lost twice to them this season.
“I’m very excited,” Djema said. “I can’t wait.”