By Joseph Staszewski
Christ the King boys’ basketball team has talked about a third straight CHSAA Class AA Intersectional crown since the last season ended.
Another title didn’t come without plenty of early drama, but the Royals are champions again after beating Xaverian 59-56 in the final Sunday at Fordham University. Christ the King became the first CHSAA team since Tolentine (1980-82) to win three straight city titles and just the fourth school in history. CK’s crown makes it the first program to win five times in six years.
“It’s history,” said junior wing Rawle Alkins said. “To be one of the few, it’s amazing.”
Alkins scored 21 points, grabbed five rebounds and was named the most valuable player after nearly missing the start of the game.
The Canarsie resident was nervous and stuck in traffic after crossing the Whitestone Bridge. He changed in the car and sprinted to the gym. Alkins arrived just before the teams lined up for the national anthem.
“Exit 4B. I remember it was just now. Exit 4B was packed,” he said. “I just had a tough time coming here. I was going crazy. This could potentially be my last high school basketball game and I was thinking I’m coming late to my last basketball game.”
Alkins did not start, scored 14 seconds after checking right in, but he felt he didn’t feel right until halftime.
However, it took until the end of the third quarter for Christ the King (24-4) to finally take control of the game. Xaverian (22-7) led 38-34 on a Doyin Isaac layup with 2:01 to go in the frame. Tyrone Cohen, who had been struggling offensively, got his team going with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Jose Alvarado and Alkins each followed with treys to end the third. The spurt was part of a 15-2 run that put Christ the King up 50-41 with 5:08 to go in the game.
“The fourth quarter was just about creating shots,” Cohen said. “Hitting open shots and getting the job done. That’s all that counts.”
He scored 10 points and grabbed seven board and Jose Alvarado chipped in 14 points. Center David Cole had a key hoop during the game changing run and helped CK combat Xaverian’s advantage inside. Forward Sayon Charles paced the Clippers with 16 points and 13 boards.
Xaverian got within 55-51 with 1:06 to play, but missed three treys down the stretch to keep from seriously threatening. The crown is the fifth for Royals coach Joe Arbitello in seven years at the helm. It ties him with Jack Curran (Molloy), Herb Hess (St. John’s Prep), Chick Keegan (St. Francis Prep) with five championships. Only Maurice Hicks of Rice has more with six.
Arbitello and his team will now look for their third straight state Federation crown in Albany next weekend. CK’s title defense starts with a semifinal game against Long Island Lutheran March 27, a rematch of last year’s final. Getting that chance after another city crown was especially rewarding for Abritello.
“This one feels good,” Arbitello said. “This one I felt like it’s the hardest thing to do in sports is three-peat,”We didn’t want to put up any of own roadblocks but I thought we had to overcome a lot to win it and we were able to.”