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February 28, 2010

Royal Tame Lions; Earn B/Q Chip

The old school battle of Brooklyn versus Queens touched down at Holy Cross H.S. on Saturday, where NYCHoops.net No. 1 Bishop Loughlin and No. 3 Christ the King clashed in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan Championship game. Both squads matched intensities down the stretch, until the Royals pushed the tempo and laid down a heavy defense to get some stops to tame the Lions 66-61.

"They won at our house, we won at their house and we came here to settle it," said CTK sophomore guard Omar Calhoun, who finished with a game-high 23 points, 15 in the second half. "It was a good game."

"This is the first part of the trinity," Calhoun added. "We're trying to win the City [tournament] and go out and win the State."

The first quarter started off with two empty possessions a piece for both Loughlin and CTK. Lions' Brandon Frazier (13 points) connected on the first field goal of the game on a lay-in with 6:48 on the clock. However, after a brief Loughlin lead, Christ the King would surge ahead on two back-to-back 3-pointers by Terrence "T.J." Curry to a 12-9 advantage with 2:35 remaining in the quarter. Curry hit three treys in the period.

Loughlin's Kareem Canty went on to spark an 8-0 run, which included an offensive board and an and-1 by Jayvaughn Pinkston (14 points), to give the Lions a 19-12 advantage.

An assist from Royals' Maurice Barrow to Kareem Thomas closed the margin to 19-15 with about 7:30 left in the second quarter. At the 6:53 mark of the phase, on back-to-back opportunities at the charity stripe, Christ the King went 2-of-3 to bring the game within two points, 20-18.

Loughlin outscored CTK in the next three minutes to gain a 29-22 advantage with 3:59 remaining in the second phase. Thanks in large part to Loughlin's intensity off the glass and the Royals' turnovers, the Lions went on to regain that seven-point margin twice more down the stretch before the close of the half.

Canty was hot in the first half, leading all scorers with 16 points, including two 3-pointers, en route to a team-high 17-point performance.

"[Loughlin] showed they have some guys that could step up and make shots for them," said CTK head coach Joe Arbitello. "Canty was unbelievable in the first half; that's as good of a first half as I've seen."

Loughlin led 38-33 at the half.

Only 34 seconds into the third phase, Pinkston showed his offensive depth with a 3-pointer to bring the Lions up by the largest point-differential of the game, 41-33. But, a 9-0 run, sparked by Curry and steadied by Calhoun, allowed the Royals to take back the lead with a 42-41 advantage with 5:12 left in the period.

In the following minutes, the squads exchanged baskets. After a jumper by point guard Corey Edwards (14 points), the Royals had taken a 44-43 advantage. Christ the King looked to extend that advantage after Calhoun picked up the ball on a Loughlin turnover, but missed the lay-up in transition.

The game continued to be physical, as both teams' big men were set to clean the glass to gain more shot opportunities. Most notably, with about 1:06 remaining in the period, Pinkston went up strong for a rebound but ended up hurting his right ankle a little bit. The pain would prove to be insignificant as the senior small forward returned to game shortly thereafter.

With Pinkston on the bench, Frazier nailed a basket to lift the Lions back up to a 45-44 advantage. But, Calhoun would drain a 3-pointer with about 35 seconds remaining to steal the lead back. And, instead of a one-point advantage, CTK had a two-point cushion, 47-45.

With only about 30 seconds on the clock before the quarter's close, Edwards kept a strong handle and dribbled all around while being tracked by a Loughlin defender. Finally, as time ticked away, Edwards found teammate Roland Brown for the and-1. Though Brown missed the extra opportunity, Christ the King had a four-point lead, 49-45. But, Loughlin's Mark York was able to get a basket up before the close of the period to cut the lead back to two points.

Both teams sensed how one wrong move could cost the game, so the fourth and final phase was filled with some serious intensity. The game came down to who could get the needed stops to prevent the powerhouse opponent from gaining the slightest advantage.

Frazier missed both opportunities at the line in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, but made up for it later with a basket to knot the game at 49 with 7:13 on the clock. Calhoun answered with another drained 3-pointer with 6:48 left in the period. Despite a 1-of-2 performance by Pinkston at the charity stripe, Edwards and Calhoun pulled out toughness plays to gain a seven-point advantage, 57-50, by the 4:30 mark of the last phase.

Loughlin was able to tie the game 59-all, but the Lions' Anthony Givens fouled Edwards with 2:02 remaining in the period. Edwards nailed 1-of-2, but Frazier, who had missed a bucket, grabbed two offensive boards under the rack to only end up at the line himself. Frazier, who was fouled by Calhoun, only hit one of his opportunities and tied the game 60-all.

With 55.4 seconds remaining and the pressure high, Calhoun committed his fifth and final foul against Frazier and sent the Lions' senior swingman to the line for another 50-percent performance. Up one, Loughlin defended well but Edwards found a sweet spot on the floor for a baseline floater.

"Today he played great, he put the ball in his hands and that's what point guards are supposed to do," said Arbitello. "You can see their game plan was to get the ball out Corey's hands and he had to work twice as hard to even just get the ball so he did a great job."

Now with Loughlin trailing by one, 62-61, the Lions had 21.2 seconds to execute a set play - one play to steal the game from the Royals. The Lions had difficulty finding an open slot because of Christ the King's smothering defense, so Pinkston took the game into his own hands. Pinkston drove to the middle of the paint, but the shot attempt hit the front of the iron and CTK's Brown grabbed the board.

"[Pinkston] is a great, great player and we did everything in our power to stop him," said Arbitello. "That's one of the things he's not going to have to face in college - a whole game plan on him."

Christ the King did notch a pair more at the charity stripe with 9.1 seconds remaining in regulation to escalate the advantage to 64-61. Frazier dribbled the length of the court, but Edwards stole the ball and, with 2.6 seconds on the clock, was fouled. Edwards knocked down both at the charity stripe to ice the game and the division title into the record books.

"When Omar [Calhoun] fouled out he said I had to take over the game, he told me I had to be more aggressive," said Edwards. "That's what I was doing. I made the right plays and we came out with the victory."



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