By Marc Raimondi
Isaiah Lewis, one of the city’s top prospects, has been benched indefinitely, Christ the King Coach Joe Arbitello said after his team beat Archbishop Stepinac 77-53 in the CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball second round last Thursday night at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows.
Arbitello labeled it a “coach’s decision.” Lewis, who wasn’t at the game due to a stomach illness, has not been thrown off the team, the coach said.
Arbitello said it was possible Lewis could play in the semifinals if Christ the King advances that far and he expects the junior to be in a Christ the King uniform next year. Lewis has offers from high Division I schools like Kansas, Louisville and Memphis, among others.
“He’s welcome back,” Arbitello said. “If he wants to be here, he’s here. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be.”
The decision was made earlier in the week, the fourth-year head man said. Christ the King is attempting to win a third straight CHSAA Class AA intersectional title. Arbitello declined to comment on the talk he had with Lewis. He did say the benching had nothing to do with academics.
“It was a conversation between me and him,” Arbitello said. “I have one very, very simple rule that I live by with my teams and it’s if you don’t embarrass me, then I won’t embarrass you. He hasn’t done anything to embarrass me. I’m not going to say anything. It was a conversation between me and Isaiah.”
Christ the King star Omar Calhoun dropped 29 points on Stepinac (10-16) a few hours after learning that he was named to the All-American Championship, held in New Orleans the weekend of the Final Four. Adonis Delarosa and Jordan Fuchs each had 10 points for CK (19-7).
“Everybody played good today,” Calhoun said. “They knew their roles. We just had fun today. It was definitely a good game for us. We gotta keep it up.”
Calhoun, the UConn-bound guard, said he didn’t know what was going on with Lewis and has not spoken to him.
“I’m just worried about me,” Calhoun said. “I couldn’t do anything about it. Right now I’m just letting everything go by, whatever.”
Calhoun didn’t play much of the fourth quarter. The game was well in hand. He put an exclamation point on the victory with a ridiculous cradle dunk on the break in the first half.
“Omar is Omar,” Stepinac Coach Tim Philp said. “He’s got great size. He shoots over you. The dunk in transition, that was pretty nice. They’re good. There’s a reason why they won it last year.”
Josh James had 17 points, Davino McRae had 10 points and Tyler Iacuone added nine for Stepinac, which was competing in the ‘AA’ for the first time this season.
The talk afterward was almost exclusively about Lewis, though. Arbitello kept it simple.
“If the coach decides he wants to play him, he’ll play him,” he said. “If he doesn’t, he [won’t].”