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CK girls top Sachem East for ‘AA’ crown

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Bria Smith watched the seconds tick away on a moment she had waited three years to experience.

The Christ the King junior won a New York State Federation Class A title as a freshman, but it left her thirsting to reach the pinnacle. As Smith tossed the ball in the air and was mobbed by her teammates, the journey to the top was complete.

“I know it is the tip top of what we can reach in New York,” Smith said. “It just feels great being No. 1.”

The Royals shook off a sluggish performance and used a dominant fourth quarter to outlast Sachem East (L.I.) 56-47 in the state Federation Class AA girls’ basketball final Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. It’s Christ the King’s record 14th crown at the highest classification and its first since 2006. CK (26-5), which finishes the season on a 10-game winning streak, beat Sachem in 1995 for the state crown.

“You just have to show them that Christ the King is back,” senior Jackie Michel said.

Christ the King, which trailed by two after three quarters, outscored Sachem East 16-5 in the fourth. Penn State-bound senior Ariel Edwards scored nine of her 23 points in the quarter and grabbed 15 rebounds. Her three-point play with 2:29 left in the game gave CK a 51-44 lead.

Smith, who was named tournament MVP, netted 19 and collected nine boards. Sachem’s Boston College-bound guard Kristen Doherty dropped in 29 points. The Royals, though, felt the Flaming Arrows fatigued and they remained fresh.

“Ariel wasn’t tired,” said CK Coach Bob Mackey, who lives in Smithtown. “She still had some life. We told her if you can take, let’s take [Caitlin Hopkins]. She made some greats move on her.”

Doherty’s hot shooting and the Royals struggling to finish kept Sachem East (22-4) in the game for three quarters. CK shot just 18-of-29 from the free throw line and saw layup after layup bounce out. Doherty hit a three-pointer to tie the score at 27 at the half. She scored off a pass from Hopkins to give her team a 34-31 lead with 5:42 left in the third and Sachem East led 42-40 heading into the fourth.

“I got a little nervous,” Edwards said. “We are used to putting away games like this.”

That is exactly what she and Smith, who was named to the Parade Magazine All-American third team, did. Edwards dominated the paint and Smith never stopped attacking the rim to combine for 13 of CK’s 16 points in the final quarter as Sachem East went cold from the outside in the final quarter.

The Royals completed a journey in which they beat the rest of the who’s who in New York girls basketball. Check off St. Peter’s, St. Michael Academy and Murry Bergtraum among many others.

It all culminated with Smith dribbling out the clock and waiting for the CK bench to empty around her.

“It felt amazing because I knew that we won,” Smith said. “That moment, it just, like, hit me.”

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