By Joseph Staszewski
Christ the King needed an extra push after its diocesan championship game against Archbishop Molloy got off to a slow and sloppy start. The Royals got exactly what they needed from star seniors Sierra Calhoun and Kollyns Scarbrough.
“You want to step up because it is your last year, not only that, just not to upset your team,” Scarbrough said. “You want to make sure everybody pushes. This is a championship. If you’re a freshman or a senior, it’s still a championship.”
All of the top-seeded Royals left feeling happy after their 58-41 win over No. 3 Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls’ basketball final Saturday at St. Francis Prep. The Duke-bound Calhoun, a McDonald’s All-American, scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Scarbrough, who is headed to Siena, had 16 points and 14 rebounds.
It is CK’s first title since 2012, and the Royals have won 27 of the last 30 Brooklyn/Queens championships they’ve played in. The joy of bringing the crown back home had the players dancing with the trophy on the court and in the hallways on their way back to the locker room.
“This is very satisfying,” Scarbrough said. “I’m just so excited. We still have to push forward. I can’t even have words right now.”
Molloy scored the game’s first five points, but the Royals responded with 12 straight of their own to make it 12-5. Consecutive buckets by Sydney Zamboratta and a Calhoun trey put CK up 32-16 with 2:02 remaining in the first half. The Stanners (13-12) got within 32-21 before halftime, thanks to five straight points from Manhattan-bound guard Nyasha Irizarry, including a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Calhoun continued her hot shooting, and Scarbrough began having her way on the backboards as CK methodically grew its lead in the third quarter. A Calhoun three-point play made it 43-27 with 2:40 to go in the frame.
The Royals (22-3), who will look to win their first CHSAA state title since 2010, were playing their second game without senior guard Kristen Drogsler, who tore her ACL. Lawrence transfer Kaela Kinder chipped in six points and 10 rebounds, and senior guard Alyssa Gatti added six assists.
Royals Coach Bob Mackey knows it will take more than one player to make up for Drogsler’s production.
“It’s very hard to replace a kid like Kristen Droglser,” he said. “You can’t. She means so many things to so many different aspects.”
Molloy has learned to make up for the loss of graduated seniors during this season. Reaching the title game for a second straight year is a big accomplishment for a team that started the season with eight new players. It upset second-seeded Nazareth in the semifinals and the veterans did all they could to beat Christ the King. Irizarry netted 15 points and Aryn McClure scored 13.
“Not one day of practice, not one game did they ever come in with the mindset that this is just a free pass year where we rebuild,” Molloy Coach Scott Lagas said. “That shows by making it to the diocesan championship.”
McClure, the Stanners’ best inside presence, picked up her second foul early in the first half, which didn’t help matters as CK found its footing. Molloy kept competing after the Royals grabbed hold of the game, but the Stanners never really threatened in the fourth quarter. CK is happy with the Brooklyn/Queens crown, but has its eyes on bringing home a CHSAA state crown and Federation title.
“All of our seniors want to go out with a bang,” Calhoun said. “Our goal is definitely to win the state and win Brooklyn/Queens and now we are on to the next game.”