MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY - If you have walked away from this game at the end of the third quarter, it would have been reasonable assumed that Holy Cross was going to win.
Your only question would've been by how much. Luckily for the Christ the King Royals, they never walked away from the game and eventually earned themselves an 88-82 overtime win.
"They were making shots [and] we weren't playing well," said Royals' head coach Joe Arbitello.
The Holy Cross Knights are a veteran team that has played together for years. What they lack in height they make up for with perimeter shooters, the best of which is 5'10" senior Anthony Libroia (22 points).
Libroia burned the Royals early and often from the arc as the recipient of pinpoint passes and superior ball movement.
Down by 7 points to start the second quarter Coach Arbitello found himself yelling "Shooter" at his players whenever any of the Knights touched the ball.
The Royals, to their credit stepped up defensively and held Holy Cross to 12 second half while Omar Calhoun poured in 19 first half points. A late 7-0 run powered by Jon Severe (25 points) and Jordan Fuchs (15 points & 12 rebounds) would pull CTK to within 2 points at the intermission.
Only ahead 38-36, the Knights implemented the balanced scoring attack with the jet quick Will Davis (10 points) and strong play by Mairega Clarke (14 points). With Ed Rocigno (13 points) facilitating, a 9-0 Knights run would put them back in the driver's seat as the wheels were falling of Christ the King machine.
Ahead 59-44 to start the final quarter, it appeared as if Holy Cross had survived the Royals comeback attempt.
Knowing that the winner of the game would be in first place in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan, Arbitello employed some reverse psychology between quarters. "They wanna win and you don't!" he screamed at his team. Pointing to Fuchs he said, "You should be dominating."
Even though the Royals put together a quick 6-0 run they were still being outhustled by the Knights. That is until the Royals defensive intensity forced Holy Cross to commit a 5 second violation on an inbound play with 2:13 and another with 1:32.
The momentum changing plays sparked a 14-5 run spearheaded by Severe and Fuchs with Malik Harmon (4 points) playing a hardnosed game.
With 47.1 remaining in regulation, Severe would drive and draw a 5th foul on Marquise Moore (14 points) to knot the game at 73 at the end of regulation.
A casualty of the war to get to overtime would be Isaiah Lewis (5 points) who would also pick up his fifth foul with 1:55 but Isaiah Cosbert (3 points) stepped in and played well.
Severe would give Christ the King their first lead from the foul line as the overtime began. Harmon and Fuchs would also foul out.
Libroia tied the game at 77 but Davis would foul Calhoun with 29.9 seconds and after the UConn commit nailed the free-throws, Davis would follow that up by committing a charge and foul out. Ahead by 5, the Royals would go on to win.
"They knew that they never beat me individually and they wanted to come in here and make a statement but this was a fight for number in Queens," said Calhoun after the game.
Calhoun led all scorers with 31 points, according to Arbitello, which was one shy of the all-time leading scoring record for Christ the King. Arbitello said that Calhoun will probably break the record during senior night at the school.