By Marc Raimondi
Christ the King has taken its lumps. The Royals played five games in six days in three different states during one stretch this year. They’ve been blown out by nationally ranked teams on three separate situations.
Maybe all of that was just a table setter for a third-straight city title.
“We’ve played a dominant schedule,” Royals Coach Joe Arbitello said. “We’ve seen everything. There’s nothing that’s gonna psyche us out.”
With a monster weekend, CK has moved back to the top of the Catholic heap. Christ the King defeated Cardinal Hayes 66-52 in CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball Saturday night in Middle Village. On Friday night, the Royals took out St. Raymond 84-74 in the Bronx.
“We can’t say who’s the favorite, but we did have something to prove and I think we did [Saturday] and [Friday],” sophomore big man Adonis Delarosa said.
UConn-bound guard Omar Calhoun poured in 29 points, Jon Severe and Jordan Fuchs had 10 apiece and Delarosa added nine for King (15-6, 8-1 ‘AA’). Jalen Jenkins had 12 points and Amadou Sidibe followed with 10 for Hayes (18-3, 10-1).
The Cardinals and Royals were actually tied at 52 with 4:26 left on a free throw by the Fairfield-bound Sidibe. But CK finished the game on a 14-0 run, including a massive three-pointer from the top of the key by Calhoun that made it 59-52 with 1:55 remaining. About 12 seconds later, Calhoun swatted a Sidibe shot in the lane in emphatic fashion.
“In the fourth quarter, I said we have a potential All-American on the court,” said Arbitello, who called the set play for Calhoun’s dagger trey. “Let’s run everything through him.”
While Calhoun had 33 points Friday night against St. Ray’s, the 6-foot-10 Delarosa has almost been as valuable this weekend. He had 12 points and did a yeoman’s job on Daniel Dingle Friday and helped limit Sidibe and Jenkins Saturday to go along with nine points.
“I think he’s getting there,” Arbitello said. “That was a big test for him. Those are two good big guys.”
Delarosa has been working out constantly with assistant Coach Khalid Reeves, a former NBA guard. He’s been running the treadmill and lifting weights, getting to workouts 90 minutes earlier than everyone else. Delarosa said he has lost 15 to 20 pounds since last season and his conditioning has improved exponentially even since the beginning of the season.
“I know they’re very good players, Division I players,” Delarosa said of Dingle, Sidibe and Jenkins. “I want to show the world and show people I can play at that level.”
With the excellence Christ the King has on the perimeter in Calhoun, Lewis and Severe and another exceptional talent, Jordan Fuchs, on the wing, a good big guy could be the biggest ingredient to becoming the first team to three-peat in the CHSAA since Tolentine did it from 1980-82.
“If he plays the way he’s supposed to, he could make us very difficult to beat,” Arbitello said.
It already looks that way. Christ the King seems to have hit its stride after some ups and downs earlier in the season. This weekend means little to Arbitello, though.
“I think it just means that we’re a good team,” he said, “which everyone expected us to be.”