MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY - Friday's championship game between the Christ the King Royals and Bishop Loughlin could be described as the tale of two halves.
In the second half, the Royals put a vice grip on the Loughlin Lions and take home the CHSAA B/Q Sectional chip with an 80-65 win.
Royals head coach Joe Arbitello credits the teams senior leadership for pulling out the win. "They've been through so much in four years at Christ the King that they know how to handle adversity. I think that's really what the difference was today," he said
In the first half, the Lions continued to roar, similar to what they did during their semifinal dismantling of Archbishop Molloy. Mike Williams (13 points) and Khadeen Carrington (22 points) were once again in attack mode and deadly from the perimeter or driving to the hole and the pace was quick.
To their credit, Christ the King managed to stay with Lions as Jon Severe (26 points & 10 rebounds) and Andre Walker (15 points & 5 assists) countered with transition buckets.
Loughlin was controlling the boards early as the new and improved 6'8" junior A.J. Vernon (16 points) was beasting in the paint. The Royals remained competitive and even took the lead on a few occasions. Tied at 28, the momentum would switch with 2:24 left in the half when Carrington would catch and dunk after an offensive rebound which set the Lions faithful cheering. The result would be a 7-0 run which put Loughlin in position to pull ahead by seven at the half. It appeared as if the game was going to be a four quarter track meet.
However, in the second half, the Royals changed the complexion of the game. "We played defense," said Severe."We slowed the game down." Severe also credited freshman Rawle Alkins (9 points) for his defensive coverage of Carrington
Severe, who's taking an official visit to West Virginia this weekend, added that the strategy was to make other players on Loughlin try to beat them. "[The Lions] only have two key players, Khadeen and Mike Williams. If we stop [those] two, then the other kids have to go off. That's not their game," he said.
Loughlin remained ahead throughout much of the third quarter but with their ramped up defense and a more aggressive offensive effort by Severe, the Royals would take the lead with 1:38 left in the quarter. Carrington would tie the game briefly but when Williams went down and out for the remainder of the quarter with a leg cramp, Jordan Fuchs (9 points) would give Christ the King the lead for good.
Down 53-49 to start the fourth the Lions were backpedaling and seemed like a dam trying to put out multiple leaks at the same time. Adonis DelaRosa (10 points & 8 rebounds) had a strong second half as well as he battled Vernon, his counterpart in the paint.
The Royals lead grew to 9 points with 4:43 and they began to use up clock with each possession. Loughlin tried with all their might to score. Williams would go out the game for a second time has he committed a charging foul over the top and suffered a hip-pointer according to head coach Ed Gonzalez. Williams would only contribute two free throws in the second half.
The harder the Lions tried to swim upstream the further behind they fell until time finally ran out.
This particular win was particularly important said Severe. "Last year, we lost to Loughlin in the semis so beating them in the championship mean a lot to us and the program."
Coach Arbitello valued the win but has an ultimate goal in mind. "We wanna roll right through," he said. "We gotta win three more in a row to get to the City [Championship], our second goal and then the States, our final goal."
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