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Christ the King falls short of Federation title

By Joseph Staszewski

Winning a state title was the goal for Christ the King girls’ basketball team when the season started despite those on the outside unsure if a young and inexperienced team was capable of achieving it.

The Royals sure came close

CK’s quest for the crown ended with a 66-52 loss to a veteran Long Island Lutheran team in the state Federation Class AA girls’ basketball final at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena Saturday.

The Crusaders have now won two consecutive AA Federation crowns and boast a senior class that also won four titles from three different classifications in five years. LuHi beat the Royals 58-45 in early February. CK was making its first trip upstate since 2010.

“I think they deserved to be here,” CK coach Bob Mackey said of his team. “I think we were the two best teams in the state. Were we ready to be here? Third quarter maybe not, second quarter we definitely were. That’s the problem with some youth.”

Dominique Toussaint led Christ the King with 18 points. Sydney Zambrotta and Kaela Kinder each added 13. Cambria Heights-native and Michigan-commit Lauren “Boogie” Brozoski paced LuHi with 24 points and Seton Hall-bound post Taylor Byrne added 15 points and 14 rebounds. Byrne became a handful for CK in the paint.

“In my mind, she was the MVP,” Mackey said. “I thought Taylor outplayed our posts and I though that was kind of big.”

His team closed the second quarter on a 9-0 run, capped by a Zambrotta layup, to take a 27-26 lead into the half. Toussaint said going up at the break gave her team a false sense of security and led to them coming out flat for the third quarter.

“I think we were feeling a little too overly confident,” Toussaint said. “I think we were going into it like, ‘Oh, we already got this.’”

The jump shots that fell in the first half didn’t do so out of the gate and Long Island Lutheran scored on the first two possessions of the third quarter. The Crusaders finally gained some separation from the Royals with a 10-2 run. A three by Grace Stone put the Crusaders up 43-33 with 2:10 to go in the third.

CK (21-8) scored the final five points of the frame to only trail by five going into the fourth. It couldn’t sustain the momentum. LuHi (21-4) pushed the lead back to 10 and the Royals never got closer than 52-44 at the 5:13 mark of the fourth. CK did not score another field goal until an Ivy Coles basket with 30.2 remaining in the game.

“They kept us out of the paint,” Mackey said. “We were looking to get it to the baseline. They shut the baseline down.”

Christ the King didn’t reach the pinnacle of a state Federation crown, but a diocesan and CHSAA state titles will do for now for this group that loses just five seniors and two starters. Next year they are ready for more.

“We are planning on coming back for the state championship,” Toussaint said. “I think we are more prepared now than ever.”

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