NEW YORK, N.Y. - Standing at 6'9", Donatas Kupsas probably sticks out everywhere he goes.
But the Long Island Lutheran center's performance stood out this afternoon as he helped to propel his team in the SNY Invitational championship as they defeated Cardinal Hayes Cardinals, 76-57.
Down eight heading into the second quarter, the Crusaders went down to their big man and it paid off. Kupsas was force-fed by his teammates and finished with a game high 22 points and 12 rebounds.
"Donnie is an amazing player," said LuHi guard Tyson Etienne. "I think he is one of the best players in the country. He's amazing, he's so dynamic and he had a mismatch and we exploited it."
After putting pressure on the smaller Cardinal Hayes defense, LuHi began to spread to the rock and put together another collective team win in LuHi fashion.
The Crusaders finished with four scorers in double figures.
Tykei Greene scored 21 points, the SNY Invitational MVP Tyson Etienne added 15 points, and sophomore Andre Curbelo came off the bench to compile a triple-double with 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
"This is something, at the beginning of, the guys told me this a goal of theirs: they wanted to win the SNY Invitational," said the Crusaders coach John Buck. "It wasn't me, it was them and they were able to do that today."
Following the win over powerhouse Hudson Catholic, Cardinal Hayes' rampant pace fell short to the depth of LuHi.
"They did a better job than we did, sometimes it happens that way," said Cardinal Hayes coach Joseph Lods. "I feel like we played five good quarters, four last night and one today. We were 22-14 and unfortunately the wind came out of our sails."
Jontai Williams led the way for the Cardinals, notching 21 points; Joe Toussaint poured in 14 points; and Tyrese Williams, who was awarded the tournament's Sportsmanship Award, scored 10 points.
While defending the "AA" championship, Cardinal Hayes will use this weekend as a barometer for the upcoming success.
"Protecting the "AA" crown is not going to be easy," said Lods. "But I'm going to tell my guys I don't see Jahvon Quinerly, I don't see Louis King, I don't see Luther Muhammad. When they say these guys are good I'm going to say they're not Hudson Catholic. When you beat a team of that caliber, it raises the bar for us. Why should we lose to any inferior opponent?"
This win adds to the already impressive resume of LuHi and look to build of the experience.
"Big win for our program," said Etienne. "Again it's proven ourselves amongst the best in the country, amongst the state, showing that strong and one of the best teams in the country."