By Joseph Staszewski
ALBANY – Christ the King’s seniors saved their best performance for last and powered their team to a second-straight state title Saturday night.
Point guard Andre Walker scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter to help lead the Royals to a 58-52 comeback victory over Long Island Lutheran in the Class AA boys’ basketball state Federation Class AA championship game at the Times Union Center in Albany. This year’s game was a rematch of last year’s final.
Fellow CK seniors Bryler Paige tallied 10 points and Adonis Delarosa added six points and 13 rebounds in their final games for Christ the King (25-6). It is the Royals’ third state Federation crown in the last five years.
“Dre picked us up a lot,” Paige said of Walker. “Once I see Dre going, I have to get it going. From there we all got flowing and we finally got back in the game and got the W.”
Christ the King, like it did all year, excelled in the game’s final minutes despite LuHi (22-5) leading by as many a 14 points in the second quarter. The Royals used an 11-2 fourth quarter run to take a 55-50 lead with 1:57 to go in the contest. Rawle Alkins scored four straight points and Delarosa capped the spurt by slamming home an Alkins’ miss, sending the Royals bench into frenzy.
“I think that dunk probably sealed the game,” Delarosa said
The Crusaders got as close as 55-52 with 21.8 remaining, but Paige and Walker combined to make three of four free throws to cement the victory. The two combined to shoot 15-for-17 from the foul line for the game. Royals Coach Joe Arbitello couldn’t have been happier that his seniors got to shine in their final game.
“It takes the seniors to win and these guys buy in,” the coach said.
The Royals got off to an excruciatingly slow start and trailed 12-4 after the first quarter and 25-17 at halftime. Walker took over from there. He felt it was his time to step up with the usual catalysts of Alkins, Delarosa and Travis Atson, struggling to score. Walker, who is without a college scholarship offer, got to the basket at will and buried two three-pointers. He hit another trey early in the fourth. Alkins made two free throws after a Paige steal to give CK its first lead at 49-48 with 4:31 to go in the game.
“Andre Walker, he saved his best for last,” Arbitello said, adding that Walker will “probably earn himself a couple of scholarship offers right now.”
Chris Atkinson led LuHi with 16 points and Devonte Green, playing on an injured ankle, tallied 10 points and eight boards. The Crusaders couldn’t hold a lead for a second time against the Royals this season. CK erased a 17-point deficit in the Stop-DWI Holiday Classic on December 30.
But this title certainly means more.
“That’s all I wanted this year,” Paige said. “I was able to get it. It feels amazing.”