Royal rumble: Christ the King tops Hayes
No one associated with Christ the King was wiling to admit it, but after back-to-back wins over St. Raymond and Cardinal Hayes this weekend, the Royals have emerged as the team to beat in the CHSAA with the playoffs around the corner.
Christ the King, which is seeking to become the first team to win three consecutive CHSAA Class AA intersectional titles since Tolentine from 1980-82, knocked off Cardinal Hayes, 68-52, Saturday afternoon in Middle Village, Queens.
It came less than 24 hours after the Royals defeated St. Ray’s, 84-74, Friday night in The Bronx.
“We can’t say we’re the favorites, but we did have something to prove,” Christ the King sophomore Adonis Delarosa said. “I think we proved it today and yesterday.”
Even though Christ the King has won back-to-back CHSAA titles, St. Raymond was the preseason favorite. That changed when Class AA newcomer Cardinal Hayes (18-3), ranked No. 2 in New York City by MSG Varsity, beat the Ravens on the road.
But Christ the King, which has played a brutal non-league schedule, has won four straight games since a loss at Xaverian on Jan. 22.
“I think it just shows that playing a dominant schedule the way that we did this year just helps us down the stretch,” Arbitello said. “We’ve seen everything – we’ve done the blowout and we’ve gotten blown out. There’s nothing that’s going to psych us out.”
While No. 3 Christ the King (14-6) has become the team to beat, Delarosa is announcing his arrival as one of the city’s top up-and-coming post players. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound sophomore followed up his best performance of the year against Temple-bound Daniel Dingle and St. Raymond with another solid outing against Fairfield-signee Amadou Sidibe and Hayes.
Delarosa finished with nine points and limited Sidibe to just 11.
“I know I’m a sophomore and these guys are good and all of that,” Delarosa said. “But I want to show the world and I want to show people that I’m good enough to play at that level as well.”
Led by UConn-bound guard Omar Calhoun, who scored a game-high 27 points and Jon Severe and Jordan Fuchs, who added 10 points apiece, Christ the King closed the game on a 16-0 run after Sidibe tied the score at 52 with a pair of free throws with 4:26 remaining.
“I wasn’t that disheartened because we ran sets, we got good looks, we missed them,” Cardinal Hayes coach Joe Lods said. “We got to the foul line and made one out of nine free throws. The things we’ve done all year to get as good a record as we had, it’s like we stopped doing it…I think my team has been corrupted by praise.”
The Cardinals, which also received 12 points from Jalen Jenkins, were irked by Calhoun’s final basket, an uncontested layup with 2.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It was (messed) up what he did,” Sidibe said. “I wish I had tackled him. I can’t wait to see him again.”
Arbitello defended his star, who didn’t speak to reporters after the game and is often a target of opposing players and fans.
“I kept saying hold the ball, but [Cardinal Hayes] were playing us,” he said. “I would have done the same thing.”
What Arbitello won’t do, though, is admit the Royals are the team to beat.
“We could lose to [St. Francis] Prep and Holy Cross next week and then we’re no longer the favorites,” Arbitello said. “I think it just means we’re a good team, which everybody expected us to be and we’re going in the right direction.”
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