Lions halt Royals’ bid for historic crown

By Joseph Staszewski

An old rival denied Christ the King a chance to play for history.

The Royals’ attempt to become the first program to win four straight CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball titles ended with a 68-64 defeat to Bishop Loughlin in the Intersectional semifinals at Carnesecca Arena March 9. Christ the King had beaten the Lions, who won three meetings this year, in the title game for three of their four championships since 2010.

It was those accomplishments, along with the wins the players on this year’s CK club racked up, that coach Joe Arbitello told his kids to focus on after the game—not the single defeat that ended their season.

“I told [the seniors] that the amount of winning they have done in their three years on the varsity is parallel to anybody else in New York City or New York State,” Arbitello said. “Three city championships in a row. You have to look at the whole body of work.”

Unfortunately, the Royals couldn’t put one more complete game together against a hungry offensive team. Three early fouls kept star guard Jose Alvarado out much of the first half and he picked up his fourth shortly after checking back in late in the third.

Holy Cross-bound senior Tyrone Cohen said someone else needed to step up in Alvarado’s absence. But with him on the bench, CK became more of a jump-shooting team without their starting point guard’s ability to attack the paint.

“He is our guy to get us in there,” Arbitello said.

Despite some shooting struggles, CK (19-9) trailed just 47-46 heading into the fourth quarter. Defensively, it controlled Lions stars Markquis Nowell and Keith Williams, who combined for 60 points against the Royals in the diocesan semifinals. On this night, it was Loughlin’s role players who did them in.

Idan Tretout led the way with 19 points and Jordan Thomas chipped in 10 for the Lions (21-7). Nowell contributed 13 points and Williams had 12. A three by Tretout put Loughlin up 55-50 with 5:23 to play in the game and another three from him pushed the advantage to 60-54 at the 2:11 mark.

“The plan was to take away Markquis and Keith and a couple of guys stepped up for them. Idan stepped up for them and Jordan stepped up for them,” Cohen said. “They are the ones who won the game for them.”

Christ the King’s Jared Rivers scored 21 points and hit two late three-pointers to keep his team in the game. Cohen had 13 points and Alvarado had just five.

The pain was evident as the seconds ticked away. Alvarado stayed in a crouch staring blankly ahead after a turnover with 30 seconds to go, but all the previous wins and titles will wash some of that away.

“It hurt to have not gotten to the four-peat or at least another city championship game,” Cohen said. “We did our fair share of winning, a lot of winning. That is all we can ask for.”

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