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FRESH MEADOWS, NY - Sometimes players and coaches don't need to do much talking with each other. They have been around each other so much, they just know what to expect. That seems to be the relationship at this point between Bishop Loughlin head coach Ed Gonzalez and his star senior guard Khadeen Carrington.
Gonzalez had an inclination that Carrington would have a big game in Friday night's CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese Championship game against the Christ the King Royals at St. Francis Prep HS in Queens and he was right to the tune of Carrington's 42 points en route to the Lions 90-71 victory.
"There is a certain communication that we have, a certain look in his eye I can see," Gonzalez said about his relationship with Carrington. "We have been together for 4 years now so I know that look. We don't do a lot of talking, but we do a lot of talking with our eyes, so I knew he was going to have a big performance tonight."
A big performance on one of the biggest stages of the CHSAA season, and doing it against Christ the King, the team the Loughlin Lions lost to last year in the Diocese Championship game made it even more special. Carrington, who said the 42 in this game was probably his best game ever, said there was another factor of motivation.
"This is the Brooklyn/Queens Championship," Carrington exclaimed. "Plus, they like talking trash so we just wanted to beat them when it counted, which was tonight."
Carrington started off hot, as he poured in 20 in the opening half, but the two biggest plays of the first 16 minutes of the B/Q title game were probably made by Carrington's backcourt running mate Mike Williams.
Williams made a three from the corner to best the end of 1st quarter buzzer, and then he hit a huge three late in the 2nd, chasing down a loose ball and burying another dagger three to make it 49-33 in favor of Loughlin at the half. The effort from Williams there didn't surprise Gonzalez, crediting Williams for being as big a team player as anyone that he has been around.
"Mike is Mr. Hustle and will do whatever it takes for us to win. He doesn't care how much he scores, he will throw his body around and do anything he can to make sure we get the win," Gonzalez said.
Carrington called Williams the best shooter he has ever played with, while Williams said he was in awe of some of the shots Carrington was making in the opening half.
"The lay ups and the moves he was doing, I was just watching him and going wow," Williams said smiling.
Foul trouble hindered Christ the King, with guard Andre Walker, big man Adonis Dela Rosa, and wing Rawle Alkins all saddled with 3 first half fouls, and each picked up their 4th fairly early in the 3rd quarter as well, and while Dela Rosa felt as if the foul issues did hurt the Royals from playing as well as they could, CK Head Coach Joe Arbitello didn't believe that was the case, instead heaping praise on the Loughlin performance.
"I don't think it had much to do with us because they played the way they were supposed to," Arbitello explained. "We can sit here and makes excuses and say I was in foul trouble, and this and that, but they played tough and hard and together and got the win."
Arbitello added that the three late in the half did hurt, but that his team missed far too many shots, and he felt that veteran experience ultimately paid off for the Lions.
"They played like they were supposed to, like 7 seniors who wanted to win the Brooklyn/Queens championship, and I can't give them enough credit," Arbitello added.
The Loughlin lead expanded to as big as 26 in the 3rd quarter as Carrington, who was recently named CHSAA MVP, seemingly could not miss. He attacked the basket, and partially because of the foul issues, and partially because he is just that good, it seemed like he could score at will.
The 4th quarter was fairly anti-climactic as the only question ended up being would Carrington break his season high of 38 points, which he did when he hit 2 free throws with 2:32 to play. He finished with an incredible 42 to lead Loughlin to their first Brooklyn/Queens Championship since 2000 with the 90-71 win.
Carrington had 42 points off an incredible 14 of 16 shooting performance from the field, but he also had a good amount of help as well with Williams adding 19 points and 8 rebounds, and Jayvian Delacruz chipping in with 16.
Gonzalez, who was doused with water in the locker room after the game, said he couldn't remember a better performance from Carrington in his 4 years on the team, and believes that he has a few more of these kinds of performances still in the tank for the upcoming CHSAA Intersectional Playoffs.
"What he did today was unbelievable and amazing, and I believe he isn't done yet," Gonzalez said.
Dela Rosa led Christ the King with 25 points in the loss, while Alkins and Travis Atson each had 17 as well for the Royals.
While the loss is a tough pill to swallow, Arbitello says don't write the Royals out based off of this performance heading into the Intersectional's, and that includes if they meet Loughlin again in a possible rematch for the City title.
"We are Christ the King, we aren't sinking the ship here, and they will get our best effort next time," Arbitello said.
It's Bishop Loughlin's night to celebrate though as Brooklyn/Queens champions, and though they may have another matchup with Christ the King later on, or possibly a game with Cardinal Hayes for the city title, Gonzalez says he will remind his group that it's one game at a time, and that they will only focus on whoever is next for them, but Carrington already knows in his mind what's in store for his team.
"This championship is just the first one, the second is coming in a couple of weeks."