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CK girls top TMLA to regain B/Q crown

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The Royals are queens again.

Christ the King reclaimed its Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan crown a year after seeing its streak of 23 consecutive titles snapped by Archbishop Molloy. It finally pulled away from a pesky Mary Louis team in the fourth quarter and won 67-53 in the CHSAA B/Q girls’ basketball Division I final at St. Francis Prep Saturday night.

“Everything is normal again,” senior guard Geleisa George said. “The trophy is back where it belongs, in its house. That’s all that matters.”

Bria Smith scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half and Nia Oden added 13 for No. 1 CK, which beat TMLA twice during the regular season. Both Ariel Edwards and George scored 10.

Christ the King needed everyone to step up a bit more after senior forward Tahira Johnson, who scored eight points and had two three-point plays, left the game with 2:09 left in the first quarter.

She banged her left knee with the knee of a Mary Louis player. She returned to start the second quarter only to bang the knee again and was sore after the game.

“To say we were going to win the game without Tahira Johnson would have been a shock,” Christ the King Coach Bob Mackey said.

No. 2 Mary Louis (18-8) was able to control the game’s tempo late in the first half and into the third without the South Florida-bound senior’s presence on the boards. TMLA trailed just 39-36 following two Christy Calderon free throws with 3:49 left in the third quarter. The Hilltoppers never got closer, however, and the Royals (18-7) pulled away.

Oden, who was challenged by assistant Coach Dom Cecala to make an impact in the second half, started a 14-2 run over the third and five different players score, with a fast-break layup. Eliana Scanlon capped it with a three-pointer to give Christ the King a 53-38 advantage with 6:40 remaining in the game.

“We came down and got a couple of stops and we came down and converted and it just got into a nice easy groove for them,” Mackey said.

The one person who never seemed comfortable was Mary Louis star Amanda Burakoski, who was guarded tightly throughout the game by Oden. The St. John’s-bound guard scored just seven points. Sophomore Karin Robinson kept the Hilltoppers in the game, pouring in 25 points, including three three-pointers. Freshman Reana Mohamed added nine points.

“The toughest part was playing the refs. I knew that I could defend [Burakoski],” Oden said.

He certainly helped Christ the King on the boards, where it had a distinct advantage over the Hilltoppers, who felt they didn’t box out enough help to counter the Royals runs.

“I don’t think they’re a bad match-up,” Robinson said. “We just have to always box out.”

Now the Royals move on to play in the CHSAA Class AA state tournament starting March 13 on Long Island. There they meet the loser of the game played between St. Michael Academy and St. Peter’s in the Archdiocesan final at St. John Villa Sunday.

With the game nearly two weeks away, Mackey told his team to enjoy this win right now.

“That shouldn’t be much sweeter,” Smith said. “It feels so good to have the trophy back, because we’re the ones who gave the trophy away, so this year having it back makes it feel so good.”

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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