GLENS FALLS, NY - Oftentimes, the championship game pales in comparison to the earlier playoff games but the epic battle between the Christ the King Royals and the Boys & Girls Kangaroo was a welcomed reversal of fortune. On Sunday, the Royals of Middle Village became the Federation New York State Class AA champs after defeating the Roos of Brooklyn, 52-49, in an all out war.
The Royals have played solidly throughout the playoffs, even without their starting point guard Corey Edwards, who dislocated his ankle before the playoff.
Playing cohesively as a team, on Sunday, the Royals shot 40.9% compared to Boys & Girls who shot only 22.2% . They also outrebounded the Kangaroos on the defensive boards, 34-19 and doubled them in assists, 10-5. That being said, Boys & Girls tied CTK in scoring in the first quarter and won two of the remaining three quarters but it was the 12-5 disparity in the second quarter that was their undoing.
From the opening tip-off it was tooth and nail as both teams attempted to impart their style of play but early on C.T.K. was already starting to set the tone. While Leroy Isler (16 points & 7 rebounds) would be the first to strike iron, the inside dominance of 6-foot-7/230 lb Dominykas Milka (5 points & 10 rebounds) became evident. Once he began to snare rebounds and draw fouls in the paint, it was clearly going to be a long day for the Kangaroos.
But the day was still young and Boys & Girls managed to counterpunch early. Diminutive junior PG Antoine Slaughter (5 points & 2 assists) did work early as he managed to use his speed to penetrate and score or knock down a jumper here and there. Mike Taylor (18 points, shooting 8-20 and 2-6 from three) displayed early glimmers as he scored off screens and on pull ups.
But throughout the quarter, the Roos, while close were playing catch as Omar Calhoun (20 points, shooting 6-13 and 0-3 from three) put points on the boards for the Royals and bigs Maurice Barrow (5 points & 10 rebounds) and Roland Brown (6 points & 3 rebounds) provided second chance opportunities from offensive rebounds. A Royals turnover would result in a lay-up for Taylor, which tied the game at 10 apiece.
Warning signs appeared in the second quarter even though Boys & Girls took the lead early. Kangaroos quarterback, Slaughter and their sharpshooter Taylor began to see early foul trouble . Because C.T.K. played a very physical game they found themselves on the free-throw line quite often, going 100% from the line.
With 3:25 left in the half, Christ the King went on a 6-1 run led by Calhoun to end the half, up 23-15.
The Kangaroos looked to push the ball up court as the third quarter began but Barrow scored in transition to increase the Royals lead 9 points. The Royals seemed to have a firm grip on the game in the third quarter as their lead increase to 27-17 with 4:22 left in the quarter. The Roos remained in the hunt as a buzzer beating lay-up by Isler to counter a Kareem Thomas (5 points & 3 assists) 3-ball ended the third quarter with Boys & Girls down 34-28.
Jeff Neverson (8 points & 9 rebounds), a 6-foot-5 senior, became more forceful on the boards along with Isler . Taylor started to heat up from the perimeter and a 3-ball pulled the Roos to within three points of the lead early in the fourth quarter.
In the style of a heavyweight championship match, it was CTK turn to throw a blow. After a Taylor basket, Brown would counter with a midrange basket that would set off a 7-0 run.
Not to be outdone, Taylor would swish back-to-back buckets, then nail a trey after Calhoun foul shots and the Royals would only be ahead 43-42 with 4:29 left in regulation
With both teams going at it, Isler would finally tie the game at 45 with an and-1 with 3:39 left to play but Slaughter would pick up his fourth foul, sending Calhoun to the line to break the tie. Isler, who transferred to Boys & Girls HS from Atlanta, would not relent and with 1:59 left to play briefly put the Roos up 47-46.
Barrow would tie the game at 48, going 1-2 from the charity stripe and seconds later, Taylor would foul out after being called for a charging foul.
Still tied at 48, Neverson would foul Barrow but the senior would go 0 for 2 from the foul line. Slaughter would get fouled on the following possession and also draw a blank. Calhoun, however would end the cycle of misses going 2 for 2 and giving the Royals a 50-48 lead with 32.7 seconds left to play.
Isler would get the ball inside and draw a foul on Milka with 21.9 seconds but only went 1 for 2 from the line. Still down 50-49, the Kangaroos looked to trap but fouled T.J. Curry (9 points & 4 assists) with 12.3 seconds left in regulation.
Curry would go 2 for 2 and now down by three with time quickly running out, Slaughter would take the ball coast-to-coast but would miss the lay-up as CTK defenders stood ready.
The Roos would foul Milka, who would miss his free-throws and with just enough time to get the ball up court, Anthony Hemingway would just miss a three point attempt for the tie and OT at the buzzer, ending one of the most exciting games of the year... right next to their double-overtime victory against Bishop Loughlin to make it to the Federation.
The championship win by the Royals capped off a sweep of the Class AA Federation State Championship as the Lady Royals also defeated the Sachem East Flamming Arrows, 56-47, earlier in the day to win the girls Class AA chip.
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