The Butler Did It: CK to face Bergtraum for nation’s top spot

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The word spread through Alumni Hall like wildfire Sunday during the CHSAA state championship games at St. John’s University.

I learned seconds after walking through the doors at about 2:30 p.m.

“Chaminade-Julienne lost,” said Joe Smith, the director of the Women’s Basketball News Service, the girls’ basketball version of Tom Konchalski.

I knew exactly what that meant because it’s what I hoped would happen.

It meant the team ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today — the only legitimate high school basketball rankings — lost in the Ohio state championship game.

It meant that if Christ the King won its CHSAA Class AA championship game against St. Peter’s — which it did, 56-48 for the 15th consecutive year — then Friday’s game against Murry Bergtraum in Glens Falls would be for so much more than a spot in the state Federation final.

It means that the Glens Falls Civic Center will be the site of the high school girls’ basketball national championship game at about 1:30 p.m. Friday between No. 2 Christ the King (26-1) and No. 3 Murry Bergtraum (28-1).

That is, if the winner can beat heavy underdog Greece-Arcadia in the state Federation title game Saturday at 2 p.m.

While USA Today’s Chris Lawlor, who compiles the paper’s national poll, couldn’t officially comment on the next — and final — poll, which will be released March 31, the winner of Friday’s game will be the No. 1 team in the country should that team win the Federation crown.

OK, so it’s not the official national championship — there isn’t one — and some call it the mythical national championship. But it will be the first time since USA Today started its national poll 23 years ago that the top two teams from a city, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 (essentially) in the country, will meet this late in the season to determine an undisputed national champion.

“It’s the same thing as the BCS,” Smith said, referring to the system used in college football to pick a national champion. “There’s no way you can play an actual national championship in high school.”

It will be the fourth straight year the city’s — and now the country’s — top two teams meet upstate.

Bergtraum, which won its sixth straight PSAL title March 17, has won the last three meetings including back-to-back championship games.

But Christ the King, along with Oregon City, are the only two schools in the country to have won three national titles. The Royals, then coached by Vinny Cannizzaro, won the crown in 1990, 1993 and 1998.

Carrem Gay, who along with 6-foot-4 Tina Charles makes up Christ the King’s formidable and nearly unstoppable frontcourt, was one of only two girls on the team last year that lost a controversial 65-63 decision to Bergtraum. It’s a result that has haunted Gay ever since.

“I know I don’t want to feel that way again,” said the 6-foot-1 junior forward. “And I’ll do anything to not feel that way again.”

While Gay and 6-foot-4 Charles are Christ the King’s strengths, Bergtraum will look to Epiphanny Prince, Shannon Bobbit and Erica Morrow on the perimeter.

So who’s going to win?

“It’s a pick ’em,” Smith said.

Is it Friday yet?

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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