Pinkston, Loughlin fall short in championship bid

He had just scored a game-high 34 points in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional title game, an instant classic that went three overtimes. Jayvaughn Pinkston ended his storied high school career on a bang, but he did so without a ring.

“This was the missing piece,” he said following Christ the King’s 81-78 victory over Bishop Loughlin Sunday, March 14 at Rose Hill Gym in The Bronx.

Bishop Loughlin, which was looking for its elusive first title since 1992, fell to the rival Royals for a third time this season in four epic encounters.

“They were the better team today,” Pinkston said. “I played my heart out.”

He was right on both accounts. The Villanova-bound forward came out on fire, scoring 10 of his team’s first 14 points and the Lions (23-6) raced out to a 21-9 lead heading into the second quarter.

Christ the King (24-5) switched to a 2-3 zone at the start of the second quarter and went on a 12-0 run to take a 26-24 lead on an Omar Calhoun layup.

Pinkston was far from done, scoring the first two buckets of the second half. Hofstra-bound Branden Frazier (10 points) followed suit at the start of the fourth and the Lions, which also received 11 points from Davonte Dunham, led 52-43 with less than seven minutes left in regulation.

But the Royals rallied again and led 62-58 with 1:21 left before Pinkston scored inside while getting fouled with 57.1 seconds left to cut Loughlin’s deficit to 62-60. The McDonald’s All-American sunk a pair of free throws with 34.5 seconds left to tie the game at 62, forcing overtime.

Pinkston added two more free throws in the first overtime and Kareem Canty added a pull-up jumper with six seconds remaining, resulting in what is believed to be the first double-overtime championship in the game’s 82-year history.

On a Pinkston floater, Loughlin led 76-72 and the Lions were 24 seconds from their first CHSAA title in 18 years. But then Kareem Thomas buried a 3-pointer and Maurice Barrow added a free throw, tying the game at 76 with 9.6 seconds left in the second overtime.

Pinkston and a few of his teammates appeared to be exhausted late, while the Christ the King players wouldn’t let up.

“You have to be the best conditioned to play this game and it showed,” Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez said. “We missed some defensive assignments and some rebounds, which were the keys to the game.”

While Pinkston believes his high-school resume is incomplete, Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello remains impressed with the Brownsville, Brooklyn native.

“I’m his biggest fan. I don’t think he gets enough credit on how great of a player he is,” Arbitello said. “He’s real physical. If there’s a fight in the paint for the ball, Jayvaughn Pinkston is coming up with the ball. I think once he gets to Villanova, we’re going to be talking about him going to the NBA.”

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