Mackey, Lady Royals Win Nike Title
Coach Bob Mackey has faced and beaten many challenges thrown at him in seven successful years at the helm of the top ranked Christ the King Lady Royals.
Things went swimmingly last season for the 27-0 Royals as they captured the treble of championships in winning the CHSAA State Title, New York State Federation championship and the #1 mythical title by USA Today.
With nine seniors, including Miss New York State forward Careem Gay departing to Duke, they might have been expected to taken a little step back. But that wasn’t the case with Christ the King last Tuesday.
The Lady Royals put away a scrappy visiting Hidden Valley, Virginia team, 76-47, to win their 35th consecutive ballgame. Plenty of talent remains on this team as they look to repeat their impressive feats from the 2004-05 season.
Connecticut bound center Tina Charles continued her outstanding play in scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Junior forward Sky Lindsay, who is improving by leaps and bound to become a force as well, chipped in 19 points and seven boards.
Once the school season began, Mackey, along with assistant coach Jill Cook, put away the memories of the 200-4-05 season and focused his energies on this season. He gathered the team for intense training, which included five mile runs on the boardwalk before they even practiced on the court.
Their hard work and stamina was going to pay off eventually. Four days and four consecutive games at the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions out west in Phoenix last weekend, the Royals battled the heat and the best teams in the country to win their second straight championship.
“It feels good to win. It feels good to be the best of the best because we’re playing the best and winning,” a smiling Sky Lindsay said.
“I was tired but when you play the best, then you know you’re the best. We play in the big time games and the big time tournaments and we stepped it up.”
What made it more impressive was the quality of opponents the Lady Royals swatted down. They weren’t your average good ballclubs as the four teams defeated currently reside in the top 25 of the USA Today rankings. Every team they faced had at least three to four top level NCAA Division I players on the court.
“Tough trip. Out of the 15 teams in our bracket, 14 were ranked in the national poll,” Bob Mackey said. “There were no bad games. No easy gimmes. It took everything we had to get out of that tournament. We had a great team effort.”
After defeating St. Mary’s of Phoenix and Ursuline Academy, with 6 foot 4 super sophomore Elena DelleDonne scoring 31 points in a losing effort, the next two matches would test the Royals endurance.
Troy High School of Fullerton was looking for revenge as the only blemish in a 28-1 championship season was a loss last December to CTK. In the first quarter, Troy had everything working as they jumped to a 19-9 lead.
The Royals stepped up their defensive effort and held Troy to two points in the second quarter. For the first time this season, the Royals were on the losing end during a contest but gathered enough energy to come back and win 44-36.
In the championship, Collins Hill High School of Suwanee, Georgia would engage the Lady Royals in a classic and controversial overtime affair. Maya Moore, the junior forward from Collins Hill was impressive with 38 points and extended the game to overtime tied at 72.
After Royals’ point guard Lorin Dixon fouled out at the end of regulation on a questionable offensive foul, the referees made a mistake on a foul charged to Moore that changed the game. Scrambling for a loose ball during the overtime, Moore hit the ball with her first and was charged with a technical, which led to her fifth foul. The call should have been deemed a violation and not a foul. Christ the King took advantage and won 79-75 as four players scored in double figures. The Lady Royals first CHSAA league game will be at St. Francis Prep on January 6.
With the transit strike over, the PSAL and CHSAA has rescheduled the week of games that were postponed. The Lady Dolphins will finally travel to Cardozo on January 4 as one of many games that will be be played this week. Until next year, Happy New Year everyone! Peace.