The Nazareth girls’ basketball team just couldn’t overcome a double-digit, first-quarter deficit.
Nazareth fell to rival Christ the King 89–76 last Friday in a battle of the top two teams in Brooklyn and Queens on the strength of a 15–2 Royals run to end the opening quarter. The game was the Lady Kingsmen’s season opener, and it showed early.
“In the first quarter we looked jittery and it just didn’t look smooth,” said Nazareth coach Ron Kelley. “So after that I said, ‘Alright guys we got that out, let’s go play.’ ”
The Lady Kingsmen team was able to keep the game competitive, but just couldn’t get the deficit down to single digits.
“We could never get over that ten-point hump,” Kelley said. “Every time we got it back down to 10 we could never get past that.”
For Virginia Commonwealth University signee Yazmine Belk the biggest disappointment was coming out of the gate flat and not benefiting from practice.
“It was like we were a jittery team,” said Belk, who contributed 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. “The way we practiced this entire week was nothing like how we played today. We were supposed to come out strong, hustle and talk, do everything we did in practice, but we didn’t execute the way we were supposed to execute.”
South Carolina-bound guard Bianca Cuevas scored 26 points for Nazareth. At times it looked like she would single-handedly bring her team back, but they just weren’t able to contain the multidimensional attack of Christ the King. Sierra Calhoun, a Duke commit, scored 28 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists for the Royals. Kristen Drogsler added 18 points and took four key charges. Christ the King’s offensive output bothered Kelley.
“I’m disappointed in us defensively,” he said. “That’s not our style of basketball, 89 points is way too much.”
For her efforts, Cuevas earned the praise of the opposing coach, who recognized that beating Nazareth is no easy task, especially at home.
“You can’t say enough about Bianca,” Christ the King coach Bill Mackey said. “She had a great game, she’s a phenomenal shooter. They’re a great club. It’s hard to beat them on their floor.”
Nazareth will have another shot at Christ the King later in the season and is chomping at the bit to redeem itself.
“We still have to play them at their house, but that’s farther down the road,” Belk said. “So we have time to work on our game and execute the way we were supposed to execute.”