By Joseph Staszewski
History is the only thing on Christ the King’s mind.
The Royals have been the dominant force in New York state boys’ basketball by winning four of the last five CHSAA Class AA intersectional titles and three state Federation crowns, including the last two. This year CK can become the first team to win three straight city championships since Tolentine did it from 1979-81 and the first school to bring home three consecutive Federation titles.
“It’s all they talk about,” Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello said. “It’s the only thing they talk about. Six of them have Division I (scholarship) offers. They never talk about that stuff. All they talk about is the three-peat, three-peat. They just want to do it.”
If they do, sensational wing Rawle Alkins, a four-star recruit, will be a big reason why. It’s clearly the junior’s team now with the graduation of Adonis Del La Rosa and Andre Walker and Travis Atson transferring to South Kent. Alkins, who holds a host of the high Division I offers, is the reigning TimesLedger Newspapers All-Queens player of the year. He is a dominant force on both ends of the floor, and there is nothing he can’t do on the court. Alkins is ready to lead as well.
“It’s hard to stop him offensively,” junior Yashawn Bright said. “He’s great defensively. He’s a great teammate, a leader for us. He’s taken us to a whole other level.”
A high level is what Bright and the rest of the supporting cast will have to play at, especially on a team that is going to play small to start the year. Bright and Tyrone Cohn both played last season, but are in the starting lineup now. Alkins said he would guard others teams’ bigs, but that duo could cause match-up problems for opponents as well because of their speed and ability to shoot from the outside
It is that kind of depth and versatility that could set Christ the King apart. Arbitello believes he has eight players who he can move in and out of the game with no drop-off. Guard Jared Rivers is the team’s most creative scorer after Alkins and the pass-first demeanor of sophomore point guard Jose Alvarado should allow CK to use all of its weapons and play a more constant pressing and fast-break style.
“We are trying to be a run-and-gun team,” Alkins said. “We are trying to be a team that is rebound and go. We don’t really want to slow the pace down.”
There is size on the Royals’ bench starting with 6-foot-6 forward David Cole. Guards Marcus Layne and Tracy Cleckly Jr., will provided provide energy and scoring.
Christ the King knows how hard it is to win and that everyone will need to contribute to get by the likes of Cardinal Hayes, Iona Prep and St. Raymond. It is a historic challenge this group has embraced since the season ended last March.
“For the school it would be great history,” Cohen said. “We can’t wait for it. We’ve got to work though.”