There are times when you have to reach deep inside to pull out a win. Those times that you simply cannot predict or prepare for. It's when the playbook goes out the window and character and wanting it more than your opponent is the only thing that matters. On Sunday, at Fordham University, was one of those times. (Go to CHSAA Championship Highlights (Part 2) for highlights of the 3 overtimes.)
Bishop Loughlin battled against a Christ the King squad that was absent their starting point guard. On paper, the Loughlin Lions had the advantage, but tapping into the one intangible, the C.T.K. Royals utilized their seemingly unlimited supply of heart and soul to pull out a three overtime, 81-78, victory to win the CHSAA Intersectional championship. It would turn out to be one of the most exciting games of the season. A Certified Classic.
Loughlin would strike first as Rasi Jenkins (4 points) scored inside. The Royals would counter as Maurice Barrow would soon give them a 6-4 lead with 5:22 left in the first.
Jayvaughn Pinkston committed a turnover for Loughlin as the Royals fans cheers. The Villanova bound forward simply smirked at them and promptly knocked down back-to-back three pointers that propelled an 8-0 Lions run.
Up 21-9 to start the second quarter, it seemed that the Lions were positioning themselves for a rout but Royals head Coach Joe Arbitello instituted a 2-3 zone that all but snuffed out Loughlin's offense.
Pinkston, who dropped 10 points in the first quarter alone was reduced to zip in the second quarter and Barrow sparked a 12-3 run that put C.T.K. back in the hunt. Omar Calhoun would tie the game at 24 and on the next possession would give the Royals a two point lead off a nice left handed scoop shot. Davonte Dunham (11 points) would drain a trey as time expired and the Lions would retain a 29-28 lead at half time.
Lions head coach Ed Gonzalez looked to breakdown Christ the King's zone by positioning Pinkston higher in the offense and oftentimes having the 6'6" senior handle the ball at the point.
A dunk by Pinkston in transition, extended Loughlin's lead early in the third quarter but Barrow and Calhoun soon tied the game again at 33 apiece. Both teams upped their intensity as the score was tied three more times but in each case C.T.K. was the one playing catch-up.
With 3:30 remaining in the third, Pinkston would score with a strong move in the paint followed by a trey from Dunham and the Lions pushed their advantage to 5 points.
It looked as if Lions were going to close out the quarter big but Kareem Thomas (9 points) would pull a rebound and go coast-to-coast for the layup to contain the Lions lead to 48-43 as the fourth quarter began.
Loughlin would start the quarter on a positive note as Brandon Frazier would push their lead to 9 points with 6:43 left in regulation.
Loughlin would then implement an aggressive full court press but Calhoun and Roland Brown (16 points) would flip the script and draw fouls including a tech on Frazier which cut the Royals lead to 52-49 with 5:49 on the clock.
Dominykas Milka (9 points), who was charged with the task of containing Pinkston, came up big in the paint which set up Calhoun to tie the game at 52 with 5:10 left in the fourth. Pinkston would regain the lead for Loughlin but this time the lead swayed back and fourth as Brown started to produce the paint and from midrange.
Up 62-58, Barrow would pick up his fourth foul but Anthony Givens (2 points)of Loughlin would miss the free throw. On the following possessions, Pinkston would grab the rebound and score, then draw Brown's 5th foul and tie the game at 62 with 34.5 seconds. The Lions would press the Royals causing them to have trouble inbounding the ball and as time wound down they'd be left with a low percentage shot from the perimeter by Milka that fell short.
The first overtime would be a defensive battle as fouls were committed by both teams and only eight point total points were scored. Calhoun would give C.T.K. the first lead in overtime, shooting 2 for 2 from the charity stripe but would then foul Pinkston who quickly tied the game at 64 with 2:11 on the clock.
Mark York (4 points) would foul Barrow, who was pure from the freethrow line, to give the Royals a 66-64 lead with 22.2 seconds left in the first OT but Kareem Canty (9 points) would take the game into its second overtime with a buzzer beating floater.
Barrow would once again put the Royals ahead at the 3:05 mark, rebounding to score off his own miss but T.J. Curry would foul Frazier who tied the game again from the line at 68 with 2:16 in the second OT.
While C.T.K. would tie the game at 70, Loughlin would go up by four points with a minute left to play as Frazier and Pinkston scored deuces. Milka would draw a foul on Jenkins, fouling him out. Solid from the free throw line, the Royals were within 2 points with 36.6 ticks left in the 2nd OT.
Pinkston would score to all but clinch the game but Thomas would drain a clutch three-ball with 14.3 seconds which cut Loughlin's lead to 76-75.
Off a Lions turnover, Barrow would get fouled by Joel Angus, who replaced Jenkins. With a chance to win, Barrow would come up short, missing the first foulshot but nailing the second, taking the game into a third overtime, knotted at 76.
Barrow would set it off in the third OT, scoring in the paint as both teams were clearly exhausted. Both coaches tried to steady their teams, ultizing all the timeouts available to them.
Loughlin began settling for perimeter shots while the Royals countered by trying too hard to score in the paint. As a result, an offensive foul in transition by Barrow would foul out the Royals go-to-guy in OT.
Terrel Hunt (1 points) would replace Barrow but Calhoun would follow Barrow's lead and commit another Royals offensive foul, perhaps feeling the pressure of becoming the new de facto go-to-guy. Givens would score to tie the game at 78 but Curry would counter, keeping C.T.K ahead, 80-78, with 37 seconds left to play.
With time running down, Dunham would foul Hunt in transition but it would be ruled a flagrant foul as it was determined that Frazier was not going after the ball but after Hunt. Hunt, however, would only go 1 for 2 from the line.
Retaining possession, Calhoun would get fouled and also go 1 for 2 from the charity stripe as well. Down by three, Loughlin would be unable to strike iron with their final attempt as time expired and the Lions would fall prey the Royals.
Though Barrow fouled out, he still earned MVP honors with 26 points and 13 rebounds followed by Calhoun with 18 points. Pinkston led Loughlin with 34 points followed by Frazier with 12 points.
After the game, a teary eyed team called their starting point guard, Corey Edwards via cell phone. Calhoun said, "He said he was proud of us and knew we could do it." Edwards was absent from the game due to a season ending injury (ankle dislocation) that required surgery but clearly his heart and soul contributed to the win.
The Royals will travel to Glens Falls NY to await the winner of the PHSAA tournament who they will play in the semifinals of NYS Federation championship.
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