Xaverian powered its way to the city title game on the shoulders of a talented front line, only to get away from that strength in the final minute.
The Clippers trailed two-time defending champion Christ the King by four points at the close of the final frame, and came up empty on three-pointers on three separate possessions in the last 45 seconds.
“The last couple of minutes I think we were just trying too hard to win,” said senior forward Najee Larcher. “We weren’t letting the game come to us, we were trying to force everything.”
Xaverian’s rally and title hopes fell short, 59–56, against Christ the King on March 15 at Fordham University in the program’s first Catholic Class AA Intersectional boys’ basketball final since 2005. For many on the Clippers squad it was their last chance at a title.
“This is a very tough loss for us,” Larcher said. “Our team is basically seniors.”
Forward Sayon Charles paced the Clippers with 16 points and 13 rebounds and Larcher added 10 points. The veteran Xaverian team shot two of 16 from behind the arc for the game.
While Xaverian struggled from long range, Christ the King (24–4) took control of the game thanks to the three ball. Xaverian led 38–34 with 2:01 to go in the third quarter. But the Royals ended the frame with three different players connect on a trey. The nine-straight points were part of a larger 16–3 run stretching into the fourth that gave the Queens school a 50–41 lead with 5:08 to go in the contest.
“We gave ourselves a shot, but they made some big shots and some big plays, and we didn’t make those big schools and big plays,” Charles said.
Christ the King led by as many as 10 points early in the second quarter, but Charles went on a personal 7–0 run to pull the Clippers within 21–18 at the 5:15 mark. Xaverian trailed just 27–26 at the half. Nyontay Wisseh, Bard Featherson and Doyin Isaac each had nine points for the Clippers.
Canarsie native Rawle Alkins scored 21 points for Christ the King and earned most-valuable-player honors. He showed up just before gametime after getting stuck in traffic on his way to the Bronx. Jose Alvarado added 14 points for the Royals. Tyrone Cohen chipped in 10 points and seven boards.
The defeat ends one of the most successful seasons in Xaverian history. This year’s Clippers (22–7) tied the program record for wins and reached the team’s first Brooklyn-Queens title game since 2010. Xaverian split the regular season meetings with Christ the King, but lost to the Royals in the diocesan and city final. There was plenty of pain after the season ending loss, but it didn’t take away from the pride the players had in their year.
“It’s real important to us,” Charles said. “It’s been a while. We want to keep a tradition and show people Xaverian is still a good basketball team.”
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