Lions down Christ the King in OT to earn diocesan final berth

Lions down Christ the King in OT to earn diocesan final berth
King dethroned: Marquis Nowell earned 35 points to help Bishop Loughlin triumph over Christ the King in the Brooklyn-Queens boys’ basketball semifinals.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

The regulation buzzer washed away any uneasy feelings of déjà vu Bishop Loughlin was feeling and carried it to a win.

The last time the Lions faced Christ the King, the team let a 17-point second quarter lead get away on Valentine’s Day. This time — with a trip to the diocesan final on the line — it was a seven-point advantage in the fourth that evaporated, but Loughlin was able to get to overtime, which allowed the players to take a deep breath and refocus.

“We were saying we are not losing the game,” junior wing Keith Williams said. “Win. Win. Win. That all we were cheering.”

Third-seeded Loughlin came out pumped for overtime, jumped on defending champions and No. 2-seed Christ the King early and held on for a 77–71 victory in the Brooklyn-Queens boys’ basketball semifinals at St. Francis Prep on Feb. 24.

The Lions will try to win a second crown in three years when the team faces top-seed Archbishop Molloy at 7:30 pm in Queens today.

“If [Christ the King] didn’t win it in overtime, it was a breath of fresh air because we should have lost the game,” Lions coach Ed Gonzalez said.

The Lions began the extra session flying up and down the floor during an 8–2 run capped by a layup from Williams that made it 69–63 with 1:25 to play in the game. Christ the King never got closer than three.

Loughlin (18–7) needed scorching-hot shooting from Markquis Nowell and Williams to get back in the game after Christ the King (17–8) built a 31–23 at by the first half’s close. Nowell (35 points) and Williams (25 points) combined to makes seven three-pointers after the break.

Gonzalez called them the best backcourt in New York City and compared them to the last dynamic duo to win a diocesan title in Khadeen Carrington and Mike Williams. The dynamic powered a 17–4 run over the third and fourth quarters that put the Lions up 50–45 with 7:42 to play in the game.

“Coach always tells me when the lights are on, the lights are on, and I have to preform,” Nowell said. “I tried to get my team the W and that’s what I did.”

The Royals didn’t go away. The squad held the Lions to just two points over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, after Loughlin went up 59–52. Christ the King closed regulation on a 9–2 run to force overtime and left Gonzalez unhappy with his team taking too many quick shots with the lead.

“It is a good that we came back, but we almost shot ourselves in the foot with the decision making,” he said.

When given a second chance his players didn’t let the opportunity to play for a title get away and now can avenge a late-season loss to Molloy also.

“I think it is going to be us this time,” Nowell said. “We are not losing two in a row.”

More from Around New York