By Joseph Staszewski
Rawle Alkins delivered on the hype and his guarantee to bring Christ the King yet another city championship.
The star sophomore thought he hadn’t been aggressive enough all season and had under-performed compared to the lofty expectations set for him this year after helping CK win the state Federation title last season.
Alkins made good on all of it to lead the Royals past rival Bishop Loughlin by a score of 72-61 in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional boys’ basketball title game Sunday at Fordham University. Christ the King is now scheduled to face Cardozo at 8:30 p.m. March 21 in the state Federation semifinals in Albany.
Alkins scored 24 points. He tallied five straight points, including a momentum-changing three-pointer with 2:32 to go in the game. He also contained Lions star Khadeen Carrington defensively.
“I wanted the old me to come back,” Alkins said. “The old me came back today.”
So did a familiar feeling for Christ the King. The title is its fourth in the last five years and the second straight. It beat Loughlin for three of those crowns. No school has won four of five since St. Francis Prep took home the titles in 1953-57. Royals Coach Joe Arbitello moves into a tie for fifth place with Gary DeCesare of St. Raymond and former CK Coach Bob Oliva for most career titles in the CHSAA.
Arbitello, who gave credit to assistants Artie Cox and Greg Lemko, enjoyed this win as much as the others, but took pride in the fact the Royals weren’t considered the favorites. Christ the King avenged a lopsided regular season loss to Cardinal Hayes by topping them in the semifinals and one upped Loughlin (23-6) after the Lions shellacked the Royals in the Brooklyn/Queens title game.
“I just thought we were the underdog,” Arbitello said. “That’s what made it special.”
He watched his team go on a 17-3 run to close the game and hold Loughlin without a field goal over the final 4:29. The Lions, who shot just 14.3 percent from three, missed three layups down the stretch. Christ the King (23-6) made its free throws to seal it. Alkins held the Seton Hall-bound Carrington, who had 40 points in the diocesan final, to just 21. Mike Williams, who is headed to Rutgers, had 15 and Travis Atson held Javian Delacruz to just eight points.
“That is the main thing in the game and we did it,” Atson said of his team’s defensive effort.
He was named the tournament most valuable player after scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Adonis Delarosa added 10 points and 15 boards and Andre Walker had 13 points, eight rounds and six assists. It was Alkins who took his game to another level when it mattered most. His three-pointer came right after Carrington misfired from deep.
“I think that won it,” Arbitello said.
Delarosa said the players gave Alkins, who also predicted CK’s regular season win over Loughlin, the OK to guarantee victory, much to the displeasure of Arbitello. The Royals had wanted to continue their dominance over Loughlin in the big game.
“They got us twice this season,” Delarosa said. “Last year we got them four times, but we got them when it counted.”