MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY - Even after a heartbreaking loss at Bishop Loughlin, the Christ the King Royals seemed to be in cruise control. On Tuesday, the Royals managed to eviscerate Holy Cross, 76-48, while being voluntarily and involuntarily short-handed.
With starters Rawle Alkins "resting" and point guard Andre Walker suited but nursing a hip injury, Christ the King head Coach Joe Arbitello felt comfortable relying on three sophomores for back-up against an always dangerous Holy Cross team.
"If you have [sophomores] YaShawn [Bright], Tyrone [Cohen] and Jarred Rivers, I would think that they would start on 85% of the teams in New York City," Arbitello said confidently.
Add to the mix, the absence of Royals' center Adonis Dela Rosa. The 6'11" senior was suspended for the first of two games for a flagrant foul on Mike Williams during the game on Friday versus Loughlin.
Sitting two starters while not having the services of Dela Rosa was either an act of insanity or supreme confidence. Looking at the end result, it was the clearly the latter.
Holy Cross took an early lead over Christ the King as Marshall Louis and 6'5" sophomore Christian Wilson scored from mid-range. The Knights led by 6 but Travis Atson would spearhead a Royals comeback that put Christ the King ahead 12-9 with 1:47 remaining in the warm-up quarter. Cohen and Atson finished the quarter strong for Christ the King who led by five to start the second quarter.
The Royals increased their lead to 26-15 with 5:22 left in the half as Alkins entered the game for the first time and immediately dominated. Holy Cross had no answer for the combo of Alkins and Atson and trailed at the half, 35-19.
The Knights came out assertive in the third. A feed from Jermaine Bishop to Marshall Louis worked well and with 6:13, Holy Cross reduced the point spread to 11.
The Royals needed a momentum shifter and it would come as Atson delivered a facial midway through the quarter that sparked a Royals resurgence. Christ the King's lead grew back to 15 before Holy Cross recovered. Wilson carried the Knights briefly and closed the gap but defensively, they had no answer. The Royals led 54-40 at the end of three quarters.
The fourth quarter would be an over the rim dunk-a-thon as Atson pushed the Royals lead to 19 with back-to-back transition slams. With 3:44 a flush by Alkins put the game out of reach 71-43.
As the game descended into blow-out status, Coach Arbitello went deep into his bench and still pulled off a 28 point victory.
Atson led the Royals with 27 points with Alkins adding 21 points and Cohen with 10 points. Wilson paced Holy Cross with 16 points with Louis contributing 10 points.
On Sunday, the Royals have a re-match against the Loughlin Lions. Dela Rosa has not spoken about the incident during the Loughlin game. After the Holy Cross victory, he had "no comment" with regard to his take on what happened or to his opinion of the two-game suspension which will end this Friday.
But when it came to Sunday's upcoming re-match against the Lions, Dela Rosa was emphatic. "We're gonna come out [there] the same way we came out on Friday and we're not gonna back down."