By Marc Raimondi
Isaiah Lewis shot a glance at Jordan Fuchs in the locker room of the Times Union Center in Albany. Christ the King had just lost to Mount Vernon in overtime of the New York State Federation Class AA basketball championship game and tears were streaming down the faces of their senior teammates.
“Me and Jordan Fuchs just looked at each other with the eye, like we don’t want this feeling next year,” Lewis said. “Obviously, we’re gonna remember that.”
Lewis, Fuchs and Jonathan Severe — all sophomores at the time — were powerless watching the second half and overtime of that game from the bench. Coach Joe Arbitello said he wanted to go with the seniors who led Christ the King to that point.
Now, though, he said it’ll be those three who will be integral in leading the Royals to a third straight CHSAA Class AA intersectional boys’ basketball title and a second Federation crown in three years.
“They’re gonna be the reason that we win or lose,” Arbitello said.
That designation does not fall on UConn-bound Omar Calhoun, for all intents and purposes the best player in New York City. And the 6-foot-4 guard is well aware of that.
“One man,” he said, “can’t win it all.”
He should have plenty of support after an offseason in which all three of his younger running mates made names for themselves on the AAU circuit. Lewis, a 6-foot-3 combo guard who will be a key decision maker, has a multitude of high Division I suitors, including Kansas and Memphis. Fuchs, a 6-foot-6 athlete who can jump out of the gym and knock down long jumpers, has looks from Florida, Ohio State, Kansas, Boston College and Rutgers, and the 6-foot-2 Severe, coming off wrist surgery, also has BCS-level potential.
“I think we’re gonna be better than last year’s team,” Severe said. “We all can score — me, Omar, Isaiah and Jordan can all score.”
Christ the King won’t have a ton of size, though 6-foot-10 sophomore Adonis De La Rosa and 6-foot-6 senior Marthely Senat will share time in the post. Malik Harmon, a sturdy pass-first point guard, and Thomas Holley, a 6-foot-5 forward, will get significant minutes off the bench as well. Lewis says the biggest thing he’s focusing on is defense.
“I’m not worried about the offense,” he said. “I’m really just worried about defending.”
Defending the Royals will be a difficult proposition. Calhoun can score in every way imaginable and he’s not bashful about dishing the ball off to one of his able teammates. All that matters to him — and he’ll tell you repeatedly — is winning. And Arbitello admitted that it’s not just about taking the city title back to Middle Village anymore. Not winning the Federation title last year, the coach said, was a disappointment.
“My goal is to win Brooklyn/Queens, city and state,” Calhoun said. “I always want the trilogy. I think about it like that. Three steps to success.”
There are another three steps this year for Christ the King: They’re named Lewis, Severe and Fuchs.
“I was mad that I didn’t play and mad that we lost, too,” Fuchs said of the Federation championship game. “I was just looking at them and I felt bad. That was it. That’s the last game. I don’t want that to happen to us. I want to go out with a win.”