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Prep comes up just short in bid to unseat CK

It could not have been written any better for St. Francis Prep senior Dawn Gorynski.

With a shade under four seconds remaining in regulation, the Bayside point guard had a chance to send the Brooklyn/Queens championship game against Christ The King into overtime and set up a possible Prep victory. That would have been the perfect ending to a sensational year for the Lady Terriers’ all-time career scorer.

Instead, Gorynski’s nearly NBA range three-point attempt was off the mark, as Christ The King held of a gutsy St. Francis Prep team, 63-60, to win the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens championship for the 18th straight time at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Saturday.

It was the fourth consecutive year that Christ the King has defeated St. Francis Prep in the final.

“There’s really not much more I could have wanted for myself or this team,” Gorynski said. “We played as hard as we possibly could.”

Indeed, the Lady Terriers (20-8) gave Christ The King all it could handle all game long.

Trailing 30-28 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, St. Francis Prep used a quick 6-0 run to take a 34-30 lead. After Gorynski’s two free throws gave the Lady Terriers the four-point lead, Christ The King junior Amanda LoCascio hit a three-point basket at the buzzer from the top of the key to cut the lead to one.

Christ The King (23-2) would use LoCascio’s three to propel them to the championship in the second half.

“If a couple of things would have broke for us different, we would have won,” Gorynski said.

That three-point goal by Christ The King was just one thing that turned the game in the Royals’ favor. After watching Gorynski shred the Royals’ man-to-man defense for easy layups, head coach Bob Mackey decided to change things up on defense with a 2-3 zone.

“I think the zone made a big difference in the second half,” Mackey said.

Did it ever.

With Gorynski (16 points) unable to drive at will and find her teammates on the wing, Christ the King was able to take a 42-34 lead halfway through the third quarter. The Royals took the lead for good after Hofstra-bound Cigi McCollin scored on a layup earlier in the quarter to make it 35-34.

St. Francis Prep head coach Tom Finn felt his team did exactly what he had asked for throughout the week at practice. He wanted his team to force Christ The King away from what it normally does to win games and it almost worked.

“When you can get them away from the things they do well [man-to-man defense], then you have a good chance at winning,” Finn said.

One thing that Finn had no control over was the Royals’ height advantage over St. Francis Prep and it showed.

Without an inside presence, the Lady Terriers were unable to keep Christ The King off the boards, something the Royals did not do well last week.

“I think the difference this week was that the rebounding was more solid,” Mackey said. “We did a better job on the boards and we practiced that all week.”

With the boards being controlled by Christ the King, the Royals’ 2-3 zone in the second half spelled the end of Gorynski’s easy drives through the lane. She scored only two points in the second half, but St. Francis Prep adjusted well and was able to find some holes in the zone late in the game.

Kristina Koncewicz’s (13 points) second three-point shot in one minute brought St. Francis Prep within two, 57-55, with 2:49 remaining in the game.

After a Christ The King score gave the Royals a 61-57 lead with 51 seconds remaining, Elizabeth Yuneman hit Prep’s fifth three-pointer of the game to make the score 61-60 with 39 seconds remaining.

“When you get a team that hot from the outside, they’re hard to play.” Mackey said.

While St. Francis Prep had a disappointing end to this round of playoffs, there is still hope the Lady Terriers in the Class B state championships.

They were slated play St. John Villa in the semifinals Wednesday, and Finn hopes this performance against the seventh-ranked team in the country will help his team make a run for the Class B title.

“If you want to say that we lost to the No. 7 team in the country, then we did,” Finn said. “But we were in it. We wanted to worry them and we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves and I’m proud [of our team].”

Christ the King will play St. Peter’s in the CHSAA Class ‘A’ state finals Sunday at St. John’s University.

Reach contributing writer William Hernandez at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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