Wings’ rally ends CK hopes for historic three-peat

By Patrick McCormack

Three was supposed to be the magic number for Christ the King in the New York State Federation Class AA final against Wings.

The Royals boys’ basketball team, seeking a historic third-straight crown, used a barrage of three-pointers to a first half lead and looked to be cruising to another title. Instead the Wings used three trays in just under 2:00 to help spark a wild run that allowed them to overcome a 12-point fourth quarter to stun the Royals.

“It happen so fast that I didn’t even know what was going on,” Royals star Rawle Alkins said.

Christ the King fell 79-73 to PSAL champion Wings in the championship game at UAlbany March 28. Alkins paced four Royals in double figures with 24 points. Jose Alvarado chipped in 16. Wings senior center Jesse Govan scored 24 points and classmate Desure Buie and Efrain DeJesus each added 16 points.

“They came out and they hit a lot of big-time shots and their seniors, that’s what seniors are supposed to do. They played great,” Christ the King Coach Joe Arbitello said.

Once the Royals went ahead 60-48, things started to go downhill. DeJesus and Kevin Saylor hit back-to-back three-pointers to cut the CK lead to 62-54 to start the rally.

“As soon as [Saylor] hit that three, that was the turning point,” Arbitello said.

Wings (28-2) went on a 12-0 run following two free throws from Alkins that put the Royals ahead 64-56. A three from Buie with 2:32 to play in the game gave Wings a 67-64 lead. The Royals pulled as close as 72-69 after two Alkins’ free throws at the 1:01 mark. Wings answered with Buie finding Govan for a two-handed slam with 34 seconds remaining in the contest. Arbitello saw his team struggling and Wings heating up.

“I thought a couple of balls rolled out on us, we missed free throws down the stretch, and they made the big shots,” he said.

The Royals (25-5) for the first three-plus quarters of the game didn’t look like they were going to miss. They shot 50 percent from three-point range before the break. When the shots eventually weren’t falling, Christ the King continued to shoot jumpers. Second half points were harder to come by with a motivated Govan in the paint.

“We settled too much,” Alkins said. “We came out hot in the beginning of the game, so I think we thought we were going to come out hot in the second half.’

Christ the King wasn’t able to make history upstate, so its sights turn to doing it back home next year. It will try to do something no program has done by winning a fourth straight CHSAA Class AA Intersectional title and a return trip to Albany. It may do so without Alkins, who will need to get a waiver for another year after playing varsity games in Florida as an eighth-grader. Arbitello is still confident in his club.

“We don’t expect to lose,” Arbitello said. “The thing about Christ the King is it’s going to be a long time before certain teams are going to come back to the state tournament. We’re expected to come back here every year. You got four juniors and a sophomore and everyone comes back, it’s a reloading process not a rebuilding process. “

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