BRONX, NY - Beating a team four times in one season is a statistical improbability but Christ the King Head coach Joe Arbitello's concern on Sunday was an even more unlikely statistic..
"It's not beating the same team four times, it's beating a really good team [four times]," he said. The Royals would get that fourth win at Fordham University, beating Bishop Loughlin, 78-63, to win the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional Championship.
In the end, the only stats that mattered were points, rebounds, assists, hustle points from senior Jon Severe (19 points, 5 rebounds & 5 assists) and 6'4" freshman Rawle Alkins (14 points & 5 rebounds)in the fourth quarter. "They were incredible," said Arbitello. "They got the game going up and down and do what they do best and that's why we're able to win because they're very good basketball players."
Christ the King struck first as Severe spun by Mike Williams for a lay-up in transition. Front court players, Adonis Delarosa (14 points & 15 rebounds) and Jordan Fuchs (17 points & 7 rebounds) also got off in the paint and the Royals led early in the contest.
Bishop Loughlin countered defensively in the post subbing in 6'8" junior A.J. Vernon (2 points). The Lions staved off CTK initial charge as Khadeen Carrington (24 points) got buckets but the Royals came through with a second wave and led 10-4 with 4:30 left in the quarter. 6'0" senior Jordan Nanton (3 points) came up with a big 3-ball that cut CTK lead to a deuce and with 2:36, Carrington knocked down a clutch and-1 that gave Loughlin their first lead 13-12.
The lead changed hands as the quarter closed but Loughlin faced match-up problems when they subbed Vernon out and Delarosa exploited it with uncontested bunnies. Severe and Alkins sparked a late run by the Royals putting them ahead 23-15 to end the quarter.
Alkins did a good job denying Carrington the ball but Williams (19 points) did a good job of taking up the slack. Loughlin cut the lead to 6 but with 6 minutes left in the half, a Fuchs trey from the corner punted their lead back to 9.
Williams cut the lead to 6 once again and with 4:48, Carrington, with Alkins saddled with fouls, got open to cut their deficit to 28-26. Severe gave the Royals some separation with a long ball from the top of the key buoyed by grunt work by Fuchs leading CTK with 13 first half points and dominating the boards. 2:03 remained and the Royals were up 35-27 as Severe got open for a dunk in transition.
Williams was hot and sparked the Lions with a jumper and after a defensive stop, the Lions went on a run and Javian Delacruz (10 points) cut the Royals lead to 35-34 with a 1:20
While Alkins did a good job defending Carrington, he also picked up three first half fouls and the left shooter still led the Lions with 17 first half points.
The Lions managed to stay close even though Nanton, their primary point guard, was benched for most of the quarter with three fouls. They ended the half only down 39-38.
The game became exceedingly physical as both teams denied interior shots but with 6:41, Delacruz got open to briefly tie the game at 40. Carrington would knot the game again at 42 and on the following possession get to the line to once again put the Lions on top 44-42.
With the game close, poor freethrow shooting by the Royals began to impede their progress and Loughlin extend their lead to 3 points with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter. Delarosa once again took advantage of the moment when Vernon was out and with 2:04, the Royals took a one point lead which Severe and Alkins padded with buckets.
Williams hit a trey late which threatened to pump up the Lions but 5'9" senior Isaiah Cosbert (9 points) sent the game into the 4th quarter with momentum swinging buzzer beating 3-ball from the top of the key; 54-49 Christ the King.
Cosbert kicked off the final quarter where he ended the third with another 3-ball which put CTK up by eight. Christ the King went up by ten before the Lions could respond but Loughlin began to fall apart as desperation set in. A massive dunk by Alkins off a fast break finished off an 11-4 run that put the Royals well in front, 65-51 with 5:10 left to play.
The Royals lead grew to 16 points and Loughlin was in the double bonus to compound their difficulties. 4:15 was left in the Lions season and they needed point. Christ the King spread the floor and shortened the game for the Lions but Loughlin managed to foul out Fuchs with 3:16 and stop the clock.
Turnovers by the Royals and the Lions cut the lead to 10 with 2:32 as Williams got to the rim but a missed jumper on the following possession put Alkins on the line to push CTK's advantage back 12.
For some reason, the Royals got into a track meet with the Lions in the last minutes of the game allowing the Lions to put some points on the board but still managed to cross the finish line first as Carrington foul out.
Coach Arbitello said he got back to basic basketball in the second half in order to pull off the victory. "The adjustment we made at halftime was real simple. We put Jon Severe, our senior on their best player [Carrington] and Jordan Fuchs, our senior, on Mike Williams."
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