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Crowned Royals: CK takes CHSAA ‘AA’ state title

The Christ the King boys’ basketball team will have company in Glens Falls.

The school’s girls’ squad erased the memories of last season and beat defending state Federation champion St. Michael Academy 61-48 in the CHSAA Class AA state girls’ basketball final Sunday at Cardinal Spellman. It is the Royals’ 26th Catholic state crown.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” forward Ariel Edwards said. “We wanted this for so long. From the beginning this was our goal. Everything was you don’t want to feel the same way you felt last time.”

Edwards and Nia Oden scored 19 points each and Bria Smith had 14 for CK. McDonald’s All-American Jennifer O’Neill led the Eagles with 22 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter, and Starr Breedlove added 10. St. Mike’s (19-6) beat the Royals (24-5) in the quarterfinals last season.

“It’s amazing having both of our teams win,” Smith said.

Edwards got an early reminder of the physical play that helped the Eagles knock off the Royals a year ago. The Penn State-bound senior got hit hard early in the first quarter, but this was a different CK team, a tougher, more focused squad. Edwards shook if off and then clapped it off.

“I was a little upset, of course,” she said. “It’s just a way of a team getting into your head. I just let it go and continued to play my game.”

Christ the King advances to play PSAL champion Murry Bergtraum March 27 in the state Federation semifinals in Glens Falls. It is the Middle Village school’s first trip upstate in the highest classification in three years. The boys’ team traveled from Fordham University to Spellman after winning the CHSAA ‘AA’ intersectional title earlier in the day.

“Murry Bergtraum hasn’t lost a game all year,” Mackey said. “[But] right now we get to enjoy it.”

St. Mike’s tried to rally for the second straight day, but could never get the Christ the King lead under 10 in the fourth quarter after it trailed 41-29 after three. Jackie Michel buried an open three-pointer from the right corner and on the next possession she grabbed a rebound and fed Oden for a jumper with 50 seconds to extend the lead to 14.

“I was very relaxed this game,” Oden said. “I wasn’t nervous at all.”

When forward Tiffany Jones and Taylor Ford finally entered in the game, the Eagles went on a 9-2 run capped by a Brianna Sidney three-pointer to cut the CK lead to just 17-16 with 3:16 left in the first half. It was the only time St. Mike’s outmuscled Christ the King.

“The better team won,” Eagles Coach Apache Paschall said.

The Royals, though, responded with an 8-2 spurt of their own to take a 25-19 lead in the break and never really look back. St. Mike’s continually tried to crank up its defensive pressure especially after halftime, but CK calmly navigated and passed its way through it.

“Sometimes I don’t even know how we scored because their defense was very intense,” Edwards said.

In two weeks, the Lady Blazers, a longtime rival, will stand between the Royals and their 14th ‘AA’ Federation crown.

“We are tested for this,” Smith said. “We had the week off for this tournament. I think we are going to be fine. We will still have our intensity. We will be ready to play.”

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