By Joseph Staszewski
What a difference a day makes.
After playing what was arguably its best game of the season, a winner over defending state Federation champion Long Island Lutheran, Christ the King followed it up with its worst in a 69-56 home loss to Bishop Loughlin in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls’ basketball Saturday.
“Definitely a different performance,” CK coach Bob Mackey said. “I thought we’d have a little more energy off the bench, but it wasn’t there. This is why you play. They have to learn a lesson from this. You can’t just show up.”
The Royals, who will still be the top seed in the upcoming diocesan playoffs, were playing their fourth game in five nights and had won the first three.
“We had no energy when we came in,” St. Peter’s-bound center Ashlie Howell said.
While no one used it as an excuse, the effects were apparent. CK, in its lone league loss, turned the ball over 26 times, was sluggish getting back on defense and its three Division-I-bound guards combined for just 19 points in the final home game of their careers.
Freshman Kailynn Sattefield paced the Royals with 15 points and Howell had 11. Kaela Kinder, who is headed to Virginia Tech, chipped in nine.
Mackey tried to combat the fatigue by going deeper on his bench than he usually does in the first half, but it did not have the effect that he hoped it would. Loughlin rattled off a 9-0 run to go up 30-19 with 2:05 to play in the second quarter and 34-25 at the break.
“They were dragging and the bench didn’t step up the way I thought the bench could,” Mackey said.
Christ the King (16-8) did show some life coming out of the locker room. It finally turned the intensity up on defense and chipped away at the deficit. A Brandy Thomas layup got the Royals as close as 44-38 with 1:50 to play in the third. The momentum didn’t last long, however.
Loughlin (18-6) turned Christ the King’s misses and mistakes into transition points and responded with the next five points to go up 49-38 heading into the fourth quarter. CK used a late 6-0 spurt to pull within 10 in the fourth, but again the Lions quickly answered.
“It killed a lot of the momentum,” said Louisville-bound guard Sydney Zambrotta. “We came back on the shot run and kind of gave it up at the end. We really didn’t play with a lot of heart and energy.”
Ellease Billings paced Loughlin with 16 points. Milicia “Mimi” Reid and Lynette Taitt each had 15 and Laysha De La Santo chipped in 10.
Mackey felt his team tried too hard to execute the game plan of exploiting its size advantage with Howell, Thomas and Satterfield. That plan worked for a time, but then led to turnovers that allowed the Lions to use its speed in transition.
“Pounding it inside, but not throwing rocks inside,” Mackey said. “No. Move the ball. When we move the ball, we look good.”
His team will need to get back to its old ways from here on out if it wants to return to the Federation Class AA tournament in Albany. A loss early in the diocesan tournament would end the Royals’ season, and only winning the crown ensures a berth.
“We need to learn that it is one and done.” Howell said. “We can’t take any team for granted. We can’t come out slow and lazy, especially against a team like Loughlin.”