By Joseph Staszewski
Christ the King found success by learning how to deal with failure.
The Royals girls’ basketball team lost three tight games at the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., before Christmas. Coach Bob Mackey called it draining and Sienna-bound forward Kollyns Scarbrough felt her team was disheartened.
They easily could have packed it in, arriving an hour before game time after a 12-hour bus ride for their opening game of the Boo Williams tournament Dec. 26 in Virginia. Instead, they pulled it together, fought for a win and have not lost since.
“It was a challenge for us mentally because we didn’t expect that,” Scarbrough said of the three losses at the Tournament of Champions. “We get that game and turn it around. It would have killed our season if we kept dwelling on it.”
Christ the King (10-3) is on a six-game winning streak that includes a Boo Williams tournament title and an 85-40 drubbing of Archbishop Molloy in Middle Village Dec. 9. Scarbrough said she and her team wanted to give New York City a little reminder who the top dog is right now.
“You hear people still talking about it today, about how big the gap was,” she said. “It proved we are No. 1 for a reason.”
The biggest key continues to be the balanced scoring the Royals are getting. They had four players in double figures against the Stanners. Duke-bound star Sierra Calhoun scored 21 points and dished out five assists. Kristen Drogsler, who is signed with Caldwell College, tallied 12 points and sophomore transfers Kaela Kinder (Lawrence) and Sydney Zambrotta (St. John the Baptist) had 10 points apiece. All Scarbrough did was add seven points, five rebounds and four assists.
“You don’t have to score 20 or 30 points. Now we have a team where kids can score, maybe eight, seven, and there will just be a whole stat sheet of people scoring,” she said.
Mackey said his team built that confidence playing against some of the nation’s best teams in Arizona and Virginia. They realized the importance of each possession when a team is able to turn a few mistakes in a long scoring run. The coach also knew how hard they needed to play to consistently stop quality teams from scoring.
“It made us really improve our defensive ability,” Mackey said. “We had to control the rebounding end and we took care of the ball.”
Now they will try to take care of business back home. The Royals have not traveled upstate for the state Federation tournament since winning the Class AA crown in 2010. This group, because of its depth, is showing they have the talent to make that happen this season.
“The proof will be in the last game of the season to see whether they are of that caliber,” Mackey said. “Right now they are feeling pretty good and they are playing really well together.”