By Patrick McCormack
ALBANY – Christ the King put itself in a tough position early only to wiggle out and keep its three-peat dreams alive.
The Royals started down 15 points and star Rawle Alkins was struggling offensively. They needed an answer and it came from junior Tyrone Cohen, who is coming into his own as an impact player.
“I told my team at the half I need to get it done for y’all,” Cohen said. “I haven’t played to my potential in a long time, but I told myself I would get it done.”
The junior scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Royals to a 50-44 victory over Long Island Lutheran in the New York State Federation Class AA boys’ basketball semifinal Friday night at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena. The Royals’ fight showed that their talent is deeper than Alkins, who scored just six points.
“I tried to explain to everybody that I got a bunch of guys, Division I basketball players on my team that ‘A don’t get enough credit because of Rawle and ‘B’ make a sacrifice playing with us and Rawle to win,” Christ the King Coach Joe Arbitello said.
Christ the King (26-4) gained the lead for good with 1:14 remaining on basket from junior forward David Cole to make it 46-44. Cole also added a big defensive play in the final seconds. Christ the King faces PSAL champion Wings 9 p.m. today in the title game. A win makes the Royals the first program to win three straight Federation titles at the highest classification. Just getting that chance didn’t come easy.
“We never put our head down,” said sophomore guard Jose Alvarado, who scored 13 points. “We were down 15 to zip and we kept on playing and playing and playing,”
The lead the Royals took on Cole’s hoop was the first since Alvarado made a pair of free throws to put his team ahead 28-27 with 2:49 left in the third quarter. It finally allowed CK overcome falling behind 15-0 to LuHi (19-7) to start the game and nearly going scoreless in the first quarter. Devonte Green paced Long Island Lutheran with 13 points.
“They come out and smack us in the face and I am just happy I have a whole bunch of tough kids that expect to win,” Arbitello said. “We don’t get rattled.”
Though the Royals overcame its challenges in the semifinal, the game ended up just how Arbitello expected it to. Christ the King has won the last five meeting against the Crusaders and has made a habit of rallying to beat them in the Federation tournament. Cohen’s play helped CK overcome the early obstacle and earn a berth in the final.
“You have to be concerned you’re down 15-0 and you missed every shot you took,” Arbitello said. “That game went exactly how I thought it was going to go. I knew they were going to come out. They have been waiting for us.”
Albany Academy 61, Springfield Gardens 50: Joel Boyce paced the Golden Eagles with 20 points and Ian Howard added 10 points in the state Federation Class A boys’ basketball semifinals. Albany Academy (17–3) led by just two with 5:30 to play in the third quarter. It then went on a 14-0 run to grab a 44-28 advantage with a minute to go in the quarter. Wright paced Albany Academy with 24 points.