Win Fourth Title In Five Years
Down seven at halftime, the league’s Most Valuable Player began to dominate, a “good” defense dug deeper and the top-seeded Christ the King Royals, helped by a home-court advantage, intensified their play on both ends of the court.
The combination led to a 22-point swing and an 80-65 win over No. 3 Bishop Loughlin last Friday, Feb. 22, in the Brooklyn/Queens Class AA Championship game at Christ the King-the Royals’ fourth sectional title in five seasons.
Loughlin lost for the second straight year in the championship game; they lost to Holy Cross last season after beating the Royals in the semifinals.
“We wanted this trophy back,” Christ the King head coach Joe Arbitello said, as he cradled the championship cup in his hand. “Our seniors stepped up and did what they had to. They made big plays and made sure to rebound the ball.”
Royals senior Jon Severe, who was named the Catholic High School Athletics Association’s MVP last week, led all scorers with 26 points, including 10 in a game-changing third quarter when the Royals outscored Loughlin 19-8.
Christ the King (22-3) beat Loughlin (19-6) twice during the regular season; both times by a single point. Friday’s game began as the perfect threequel as the lead changed hands several times during the first quarter.
Christ the King started the second quarter on a 9-0 run, but Loughlin’s junior Mike Williams, who totaled 13 points, nailed a three-pointer to tie the score at 26. Loughlin then rallied for 11 straight points, including five from Khadeen Carrington, as the visiting team extended their lead to 41- 34 at the half. But the Royals stepped up their game in a couple of ways, including a strategy, described by Severe, to zone-in on Loughlin’s two top threats.
“They only have two key players, Khadeen and Mike Williams. If we stop those two, then the other kids have to go off. That’s not their game,” he said.
Said Arbitello: “I told my guys at halftime that I thought we were playing some pretty good defense. But they were good. There was nothing that I didn’t like; I just thought they were making tough shots. Our transi- tions were good and our rotations were good.”
Then, the defensive energy intensified.
“We took it to that senior level where we wanted to win this battle,” Arbitello added. “You can’t coach that.”
The defensive stops led to transition baskets for Severe which forced the momentum and score in Christ the King’s favor.
Severe put Christ the King in front 48-47 with a long three with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Royals’ lead grew to nine points with less than five minutes remaining in the game and they began to use up clock with each possession until time expired and Loughlin could no longer prolong the inevitable with fouls.
Junior Adonis Delarosa, who scored 10 points and missed a double double by two rebounds, battled junior Anthony Vernon, and prevented further dominance in the paint during the second half.
Junior guardAndreWalker tallied 15 points in the game and played defensive stopper for the Royals as well.
Though the location of the championship game was designated by the league well before playoff matchups were determined, Arbitello and Bishop Loughlin head coach Edwin Gonzalez both said that a neutral court would have been a more appropriate site.
“I wouldn’t want to go to Bishop Loughlin and play Loughlin at Loughlin,” Arbitello said. “Bishop Loughlin is a very, very good basketball team. It’s going to take your best game every game to beat them. I don’t want to see them again. I want to be in the city championship but I don’t want to be against them.”
While the head coach may have his reservations, the league MVP does not.
“I think we can beat anybody,” Severe said. “If we play together and play defense like we did in the third and fourth quarters, nobody can beat us.”