BRONX, NY - Christ the Kings' seniors would get the Royals through the early rounds of the CHSAA Intersectional playoffs but it would be the next generation players that took CK to its second championship in as many years at Fordham University.
Juniors Travis Atson and super sophomore Rawle Alkins would lead the Middle Village, NY school to a 72-61 victory over the Bishop Loughlin Lions on Sunday.
Alkins led the Royals with 24 points (8-18/3-6) with Atson adding 21 points, 10 rebounds.
"Them two right there. They won the game for us," said Center Adonis Dela Rosa (10 points & 15 points) of Atson and Alkins. The Royals senior spoke especially high on Alkins, who will carry the mantle for Christ the King for the next two years. "He's incredible," said Dela Rosa. "I don't think there's anybody better than him that's a sophomore and definitely the best wing in the city."
Royals Head Coach Joe Arbitello also thought Alkins stepped up to the plate when it counted. "He was outstanding. We needed him to score today, he scored. That's what makes him a great player not just a good player. He does whatever it takes to win." Coach Arbitello also praised Atson's work on the defensive end especially. "He rebounds, he hits threes. He did an outstanding job [defensively] on Jayvian Delacruz (8 points & 5 rebounds)"
Bishop Loughlin came out the box aggressively as Khadeen Carrington (21 points & 4 rebounds) drained a jumper but Andre Walker (13 points, 6 assists & 8 rebounds) soon responded. A game of one-up-man-ship ensued. Atson gained blue collar points for Christ the King but Carrington lifted the Lions up 9-8 with 2:42 in the opening quarter.
Atson continued to buoy the Royals throughout the quarter but Carrington's aggressiveness got him to the foul line and kept Loughlin in front late in the quarter. Alkins came alive as the quarter drew to a close with a crowd pleasing dunk in transition. 6'0" senior Bryler Paige (4 points & 3 assists) would then knock down a trey at the buzzer putting the Royals on top, 15-11 to end the warm-up quarter.
6'8" A.J. Vernon (4 points & 2 rebounds) posted up and scored as the second quarter commenced, taking advantage of Dela Rosa taking a brief rest on the bench. Dela Rosa re-enter the game and CK immediately went on a run and led 19-13 with 6:33 as Atson and Alkins tag teamed the Lions in transition.
The Royals increased their lead to eight but an errant pass led to a bucket by Mike Williams (17 points & 4 assists)who struggled all evening but finished with 11 first half points. Williams began to percolate as he netted a trey and with 3:22 he scored a lay-up closing the Lions deficit to 24-20.
Loughln stepped up their defensive pressure and it yielded immediate results. A 7-2 run put them on top 27-26 with 1:57 remaining in the half. Dela Rosa hit a midrange and Atson drew a foul with 1:17 that put the Royals back in the driver's seat by three.
Christ the King upped their advantage to four points with 29 seconds and led at the half, 33-29.
Delacruz and Alkins exchanged buckets as the third quarter began. A vicious battle on the boards took place as the consequences of the game began to sink in. Alkins imposed his will on the defense and the Royals continued getting to the line. With four minutes left in the third, the Royals led 42-37.
Williams sprung up and pulled the Lions to within one but Atson and Alkins fought back but Carrington would not be denied, scoring and and-1 with 20.2 seconds. Down 48-47, Loughlin would get a turnover with 5.9 under their basket with a chance to take the lead. Dela Rosa would get the ball back and get it to Walker who would hit a half court heave to end the quarter with CK up, 51-47.
The Lions closed the gap early in the championship quarter but each time, Christ the King responded but with 6:04, Carrington tied the game at 55 with a three from the top of the key.
A post-up move by Dela Rosa was foiled by Loughlin and Khalik Howe (5 points & 2 assists) gave Loughlin a 56-55 lead going 1 of 2 from the line.
On subsequent possession by Dela Rosa in the paint he walked when double teamed and Williams scored on the turnover increasing Loughlin's the lead to 58-55. Tempers flared as Howe and Walker got into a scrum with Walker drawing a foul to close the gap, 58-57 with 4:05. A lay-up by Dela Rosa regained the lead for the Royals briefly.
The lead changed hands but with 2:32, a trey by Alkins pushed the Royals up, 64-60. Carrington drew a foul with 2:16 but went 1 of 2. Missed opportunities by Loughlin put and another foul put Dela Rosa on the line with 1:23 and the Royals lead as now 66-61. Loughlin turned the ball over once again as desperation set in. A minute remained and Alkins drew a foul and almost drew a tech. Alkins missed both free-throws but Carrington would then miss a wide open lay-up and then foul Atson with 46 seconds. Atson hits both from the foul line and the Lions were now down seven points
Another miss by Carrington from 3-point range and Atson was fouled yet again. In the final seconds, Dela Rosa would end the game from the foul line, shooting free-throws en route to an eleven point win and a two-peat championship
"We made them try to beat us with their role players and it worked," said Alkins.
Asked why he raised his offensive game, Alkins responded, "I'm an all around player. Scoring is not everything to me. I just wanna win basketball games. I want to create a legacy for every year that I'm here. I wanna win a City Championship, a State Championship. Me and Travis Atson."
Before the game, Alkins said, "I guaranteed this win to everybody." Arbitello criticized Alkins not Carrington, as originally reported, for guaranteeing a win "It's not something you do," he said.