By Joseph Staszewski
ALBANY – Dominique Toussaint’s stellar fourth-quarter performance helped her make good on her promise to her teammates and turned Christ the King Coach Bob Mackey’s defensive adjustment into a genius move.
The 5-foot-9 junior guard defended and contained 6-foot-3 McDonald’s All-American forward Brianna Fraser over the game’s final 8:00 and scored 14 of her team-high 28 points in the frame.
It was enough to rally the Royals from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to beat PSAL champion South Shore 71-67 in the New York State Federation Class AA girls’ basketball final at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena on March 27. Toussaint told her teammates she would not let them go home early.
“First, second, third, beginning of the fourth quarter, that was the only thing, ‘I do not want to lose this game,” Toussaint said. “I promised my team I’d get them up there and try my best to get the win for them. That’s what we did.”
Toussaint was waiting for Mackey to let her cover Fraser, who scored a Federation tournament single-game record 46 points. Fraser had 11 of them in the fourth. Toussaint, CK’s top defender, made her work for each of them. The Royals trapping defense wore down the backcourt of the Vikings (23-4) with South Shore senior Amanda Cruz (10 points) in foul trouble.
“I was like finally,” Toussaint said. “I was waiting the whole game to guard her. I want to guard the best player on the team. I feel I can match up with them.”
CK had to match South Shore’ effort, trailing 53-43 with 7:07 to go in the game. The Royals slowly chipped away. Toussaint scored five straight points to cut the deficit to 59-52 with 3:00 to go.
She later hit a jumper and Sydney Zambrotta (26 points) scored off a steal by Kaela Kinder (14 points) to put Christ the King up 63-62 with 1:22 to play in the game. It was the Royals’ first advantage since it led 16-14 to end the first quarter. A free throw by Toussaint put CK up for good at 66-65 with 35 seconds remaining in the contest.
“That was a complete effort,” Mackey said. “She knew what she had to do.”
Christ the King (21-5) advances to its first Federation final since 2010. It will look to claim its 15th title at the highest classification when it faces defending champion Long Island Lutheran 7 p.m. today. CK fell to LuHi 58-45 in February.
The game against South Shore could have gotten away early from the Royals in the second quarter. They scored just eight points in the frame, four of which came in the final minute. CK trailed just 29-24 at the break and Zambrotta kept it within striking distance in the third. She scored 12 straight points and nearly matched Fraser point for point. She scored 22 of her 26 points in the second half and Christ the King trailed just 49-41 going to the fourth.
“I knew I didn’t have a really good first half,” she said. “The second half I knew I had to step up for my teammates, my coaches and everyone came up. We all wanted to win.”
It was a roller coaster ride on the way to that victory. Even Mackey said it was tough to watch his team in the third quarter and the school’s boys’ squad lent it support by sitting being the South Shore basket going crazy much of the second half. Toussaint ensure the ride ended with big, bright smiles and a shot at a state title.
“Fourth quarter see stepped up,” Zambrotta said. “She got the job done and that’s what she need.”