March 29, 2011
The ancient Greeks often spoke of hubris and how it would lead to a man's downfall. Time and time again, that ancient wisdom has proven prophetic in sports, a truism that was borne out at the scholastic level on Saturday, when Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran High beat Manhasset (N.Y.) St. Mary's School in the state's Class A state championship game.
According to the New York Post and New York Daily News, Lutheran was spurred to victory by either a typographical error or overtly braggadocios T-shirts worn by St. Mary's after it won the New York Catholic title earlier in March. Following the victory, Gaels players were given shirts that proclaimed them "State Champs, 30-0." At the time, the team's record was 28-0, with games in semifinals and finals of the state tournament to come.
That state final game was against Lutheran, which saw a clip of St. Mary's celebrating in the 30-0 shirts in the afternoon before the state final matchup.
"To me that's very disrespectful," Long Island Lutheran senior Achraf Yacoubou told the Post. "You could at least wait until the end of the season, but they put 30-0 [on the shirts]. That kind of backfired."
To say that the shirts backfired is a severe understatement. St. Mary's took a three-point lead into halftime of the title game, but eventually emerged licking its wounds from a 78-51 loss.
The Lutheran players made it abundantly clear that the St. Mary's shirts provided significant motivation for their comeback victory.
"[Lutheran coach John Buck] put [a picture of the shirt] on a laptop, we saw the shirt and then he said 'I want everyone to see this picture before we leave,'" Yacoubou told the Post. "I never talk, I only play. I speak with my game, I don't talk trash."
Clearly, Yacoubou -- who scored 18 points en route to being named the title game's MVP -- and his teammates' games did a sufficient amount of talking on their own, even if the St. Mary's coach swore that the shirts were a simple typographical error.
"One of the people in a sporting goods store didn't call me for the record and put a T-shirt together," St. Mary's coach Bill Harkin told the Post. "When I found out about it, quite frankly, I said, 'Guys get rid of those T-shirts, we're not wearing those things.' ... You don't give a team fuel, ever."
In this case, when combined with Lutheran High's early season loss to St. Mary's, the 30-0 shirts were ample fuel to fire a major upset which cost St. Mary's an ever-elusive perfect season.
"For the program and the school, March 26, 2011 will be a day that lives on in LuHi history," Buck told the Post.
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