Christ the King, Mackey Capture N.Y. State Federation Crown
The Lady Royals of Christ the King has established stars such as Careem Gay, Tina Charles and Nakeja Kelly. Murray Bergtraum is no slouches either as they features all stars in Epiphany Prince and Keisha Stokes. Those are the names most familiar with this yearly showdown upstate at the New York State Federation.
Bergtraum has gotten the best of the Lady Royals in either the semifinals or in the finals the last four seasons. But in this latest showdown at the Glens Falls Civic Center, Christ the King displayed some new stars that grabbed the attention and reclaimed the Federation crown that has eluded them for years.
It was the consistent play of sophomore guards’ Lorin Dixon and Sky Lindsay that helped Christ the King get by their rivals Murray Bergtraum 66-59 to win the New York State Class AA Federation Championship. They also capped off an undefeated season with a 27-0 record and will certainly be appointed to USA Today’s #1 ranking and the national title.
It was a game that the Lady Royals had anticipated all year and it was pretty much impossible to ignore those thoughts. Head coach Bob Mackey said that his team was thinking about the possible rematch since last March 24, when the Royals were defeated 65-63 in the Federation semifinal.
For seniors such as Careem Gay, and guard Nakeja Kelly, it would be their last chance to win a title and Mackey felt that it was a great way to send them off to college with a victory.
“Since last March 24th, they were willing to get back to this point”, Mackey said. “I’m happy to see these kids so happy and so proud. It’s a great feeling and it’s a wonderful way for this senior group to go out.”
Dixon did a good job in breaking Bergtraum’s tough half court pressure defense. The Royals capitalized on their scoring opportunities and gave the ball to Charles, who scored 20 points and grabbed 19 rebounds and Gay, who was awarded Miss New York State Basketball after the game, scored 13 and had 12 rebounds.
Kelly and Lindsay were effective on the offensive side as well with 16 points and 10 points respectively.
“This is my last game and I was so happy we won,” said senior forward and Fordham bound Nakeja Kelly. “I wanted to win so badly. We don’t talk about it a lot but I knew we were going to come out on top.”
Christ the King had the lead for most of the game and it was their defense that did enough to harass Bergtraum’s Ephiphany Prince into shooting a terrible 11 of 30 field goals for 27 points.
Once his team fell behind, Bergtraum head coach Ed Grezinsky knew that their opponent would be hard to catch.
“We were tired. We were down by 9 or 10 and we wanted to make things happen. It hard when you play CTK and you don’t play your A game. You got to give them their due.”
For coach Bob Mackey, the proverbial monkey has been lifted off of his back. After winning the Federation title in 2000, it has taken him five years to once again bring Christ the King another federation title. Mackey, who will coach the WBCA High School All-American game on the weekend of the women’s NCAA Final Four, couldn’t hide his enthusiasm.
“The first one (title) was special. Its right up there with the first title team with the boys (Mackey was an assistant coach at Tolentine High School) in 88, in 1998 with the girls (assistant coach) who were undefeated and my first title as head coach in 2000,” Mackey said. “This one was wonderful.”
Woodmere Goes Down
Lawrence Woodmere Academy’s Tyrone Nash was a one man show in the second half against St. Anthony’s in the semifinals of the Class ‘A’ Federation Tournament.
After a subpar first half, the 6 foot 7 junior put the team on its shoulders and cut the lead to 3 points in the fourth quarter.His 16 points kept the Tigers close but it was to no avail as the Friars pulled away and won 67-58 last Friday afternoon.
Woodmere fell to 23-5 but they have a lot to be proud of. The whole starting lineup, which consisted of juniors, will come back next year intact. Nash can play center but can be versatile as the point forward and other positions on the floor.
“They had great defense on us us. We didn’t do a good job in going inside. I felt good coming back but they just beat us,” Nash said. “It was a great season and I loved every moment of it.”