As he was walking off the court after fouling out with 55.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter and his team trailing by one point, Christ the King sophomore sensation Omar Calhoun turned to Corey Edwards and delivered a message.
“He said I’ve got to take over the game,” Edwards said.
The junior point guard did just that, putting his team up for good with a baseline floater and sealing a second consecutive Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title with two free throws with 2.6 seconds left as Christ the King defeated Bishop Loughlin, 66-61, at Holy Cross HS in Queens Feb. 27.
CK (21-5) earns the top Brooklyn/Queens seed in the upcoming CHSAA Class AA intersectional playoffs.
Jayvaughn Pinkston had 14 points and 10 rebounds, but seemed to be affected by the Royals physicality, especially when he drove to the basket.
“We just didn’t execute at the end of the game,” the Villanova-bound senior forward said. “There were some plays where we were getting fouled and there weren’t any calls. We can’t leave it up to the refs.”
Pinkston had a chance to put his team back in front, but his layup attempt with 9.1 seconds left went off the front rim. Christ the King’s Maurice Barrow grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He knocked down both free throws to give the Royals a 64-61 lead.
Branden Frazier (13 points) raced up court, but he lost control of the ball by the Loughlin bench and Edwards stole it, was fouled and nailed a pair of clinching free throws.
Edwards also sacrificed his body midway through the third quarter, drawing a charge on his close friend Pinkston in the paint.
“My back is killing me,” Edwards said.
While Calhoun (game-high 23 points) and Edwards (14 points) were instrumental on offense, Christ the King won the game with a more dedicated defensive effort, especially in the second half.
“We gave up 38 points in the first half and then we decided to play defense,” Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello said.
Kareem Canty, who scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed nine, had a dominant first half and Bishop Loughlin went into halftime with a 38-33 lead.
“Canty was unbelievable in the first half,” Arbitello said. “That was as good of a first half as I’ve seen.”
T.J. Curry and Barrow added 12 points apiece for Christ the King, which won its seventh B/Q crown.
“At Christ the King it’s tradition,” Arbitello said. “To keep it going back-to-back years means a whole lot to our program.”
After beating Bishop Loughlin twice and Rice once, Christ the King is the likely favorite to capture the intersectional crown next month.
“This is just the first part of the trinity,” Calhoun said. “We’re trying to win the city and go out and win the states. It’s not over yet.”