By Stephen Zitolo
Senior Dominique Toussaint described this year’s Christ the King team as one that had to deal with “unfinished business,” and the Royals have continued to handle it.
The club’s veterans turned in superb performances in top-seeded Christ the King’s 96-71 rout of No. 2 Bishop Loughlin in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls’ basketball final at St. John’s Prep Feb. 28. The win marked Christ the King’s third straight diocesan title and 29th in the last 33 years.
The victory also came with a bit of a revenge factor, as the Lions beat the Royals on their home floor on what was to be the final game this senior-laden team played in Middle Village.
“Last time we didn’t have energy,” Virginia Tech-bound win Kaela Kinder said. “We didn’t come out and play well. But we came out tonight and did what we needed to do.”
Combine that with the fact that this game had the potential to be the final one of the season overall for both squads, and the result was a group of Royals seniors with plenty of motivation. Three of Christ the King’s Division-I bound senior stars carried the club, combining for 67 points. Toussaint had 26 points with five three-pointers, Sydney Zambrotta scored 21 points and Kinder added 20 points.
In the game’s first few minutes, Christ the King (17-8) got off to a slow start as Loughlin posted a 7-2 run. But, as was the Royals mantra of the day, as soon as the Lions got a little momentum, CK grabbed it right back. The Royals would go on a 14-0 run in a 2:00 span to take a 16-7 lead. Loughlin (19-7) scrapped back, but the Royals killed any momentum by ending the quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 25-18.
In the middle of the second quarter, Loughlin was able to put together a 10-0 run that put it up 33-32 with 2:03 remaining. But once again Christ the King grabbed the momentum, and this time the lead, for good. Toussaint drained two three-pointers to go along with two Zambrotta free throws in the final minute of the quarter to give the Royals a 41-35 lead that they would not be giving up.
The second half was more of the same for Christ the King as its offense stymied the Lions. The closest the Loughlin got was 43-39 early in the third quarter. Christ the King outscored the Lions 55-36 in the second half to secure the crown and a spot in the CHSAA Class AA state semifinal March 11 at St. John Villa.
“It was just a great team effort,” Christ the King coach Bob Mackey said. “We really came alive in that third quarter between Dom, Syd, and Kaela Kinder. Those three really proved it. I thought Ashlie Howell was just awesome on the boards.”