Another game, another comeback for Christ The King. And this time, it secured the program’s fourth Mirabito STOP-DWI Holiday Classic championship.
From a 16-point second-quarter deficit, Christ The King climbed back to claim a 56-53 victory over Long Island Lutheran on Monday night at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Six-foot-10 senior Adonis Delarosa finessed home a jump-hook with 90 seconds remaining to give the Royals a 52-51 advantage — the team’s second lead since 10-7 — and a strong post move by sophomore guard Rawle Alkins made it 54-51 with 20 seconds left.
After Lutheran’s Elijah Bailey failed to convert a 3-point attempt from the wing with 10 seconds to play, Alkins tacked on a pair of free throws to put this one out of the Crusaders’ reach.
Six-foot-4 junior Travis Atson was named Most Valuable Player on the heels of a game-high 17-point outing that included 3-for-5 3-point shooting, and Alkins closed with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.
Sophomore Devonte Green topped Lutheran scorers with 15 points, though his 5-for-13 shooting was part of a team-wide 35-percent night or the Crusaders.
Christ The King also captured STOP-DWI Holiday Classic championships in 1995, 1999 and 2009.
“I absolutely love the fight of my guys,” coach Joe Arbitello said of his squad, which emerged from tenuous jams in all three games.
The teams jostled for the upper hand early on before Lutheran took over the game for one stretch of the first half, turning a three-point deficit into a 29-13 lead in a span of 5½ minutes.
Chris Atkinson began that surge by spotting up and flushing a 3-point goal from the left wing to create a 10-10 tie. Robyn Missa followed with a tip-in, Marvin Prochet with a 15-foot jump shot off the dribble and Green with a 3-pointer to make it 17-10.
The Crusaders’ remaining goals of the opening quarter came on a steal-and-go by Missa, a mid-range jump shot by Atkinson and a short offering by Bailey after he worked his way into the lane.
Prochet opened the second quarter by banging home a 3-pointer and Green’s strike from the right wing to make it 27-12 prompted a timeout by Christ The King.
Back charged the Royals, with nine consecutive points before Atkinson answered to make it 31-22 with 1:29 to play in the half.
Christ The King was within 31-27 when Atson hit a 3-pointer after a Lutheran turnover, and it was 33-27 at halftime.
Lutheran’s lead grew to 36-27 before Christ The King strung three consecutive field goals — a transition finish and a 3-pointer by Atson, and a gravity-defying baseline drive for two by Tyrone Cohen that had the Royals within 36-34 three minutes into the third quarter.
A softly lofted shot in the lane by Delarosa with 1:51 left in the quarter gave Christ The King its first lead since the first quarter, 40-39.
Lutheran came back with the final six points of the quarter, capped by Green’s 3-pointer from the top after accepting an alert exit feed from Prochet along the baseline, and the Crusaders brought a 45-40 lead into the fourth.
Lutheran led by 51-45 after two free throws by Chris Burkley with 3:49 to play before Christ The King’s closing charge was ignited by a 3-pointer from Alkins.
“I think (Lutheran coach John Buck) had an unbelievable game plan realizing our point guard wasn’t there, just making everything so difficult and taking the next pass away,” Arbitello said, referring to starter Andre Walker, who did not play in the tournament.
“My young guys got a little rattled and tried to do everything on their own instead of trusting their teammates.
“But then we calmed down, got the game going up and down a little bit, eased into what we wanted to do and I thought we took the game over pretty well.”