Christ the King junior Sierra Calhoun was sitting on the bench prior to a Brooklyn-Queens clash against Bishop Ford.
While the Lady Royals top scorer will be wearing a sweatsuit for the next two weeks to recover from a patella tendinitis injury, junior forward Kollyns Scarbrough and Taylor Butigian showed that Christ the King is more than just their star.
Scarbrough scored a game-high 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Butigian picked up a near triple-double to lead Christ the King to a thrilling 45-44 victory in Middle Village Sunday.
"It was exciting, a little scary. We put in a huge effort as a team. We are trying to prove a point," Scarbrough said. "We know we didn't have Sierra today, but we tried to prove today what we have are other players on this team that could step up."
Butigian was a force as the 6-foot-1 center scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had 7 blocks to keep Christ the King (14-7), ranked No. 2 in New York City and No. 5 in the Tri-State by MSG Varsity, in the hunt to share the Brooklyn-Queens Division I crown.
Christ the King improved to 7-2 in the division and stopped Bishop Ford (17-6, 10-2), ranked No. 1 in New York City and No. 4 in the Tri-State by MSG Varsity, from clinching the title. The Royals could force a possible three-way tie at the top with Bishop Ford and Archbishop Molloy if they can secure wins this week against Mary Louis, Bishop Loughlin and Nazareth.
"I thought they played very well. we made some good plays and some was a little rough, but they hung in there and didn't quit," said Christ the King coach Bob Mackey.
The Royals came out with a strong defensive effort to hold Bishop Ford without a field goal for eight and half minutes in the first half. Christ the King took an early 12-5 lead and exerted an aggressiveness on the defensive end that wasn't present in an opening loss of the season against the Falcons.
"We had to pick up the points and finish on defense because she [Calhoun] is one of our biggest players," Butigian said. "We had to take them out of their comfort zone and force them to shoot hard jump shots."
Christ the King maintained its advantage despite going through a harrowing final minute of regulation.
Bishop Ford missed the front end of a 1-on-1 three times and Aaliyah Jones' putback attempt with 30.4 seconds was blocked by Butigian to keep the Royals in the lead at 44-42.
Jones cut the deficit to 45-44 with 13 seconds left and Tanasia Blake stole the inbounds pass to give Bishop Ford a last chance at a victory.
Once again the Falcons couldn't capitalize as Jones missed a 3-point attempt from the corner with 10 seconds remaining and Blake's putback attempt missed the mark.
"We didn't come with a sense of urgency or sense of closing it out," Bishop Ford coach Mike Toro said. "To understand if we win this game we finish in first. I told them in the last minute we had seven chances to tie the game or take the lead."
The Falcons will have plenty to think about in the weeks leading to the CHSAA Brooklyn-Queens diocesan playoffs. Jill Conroy led Bishop Ford with 12 points and Brandi Segars added 11.
"Now we got to sit sit back and watch if everybody beats each other up this week. At the end of the day we didn't get it done," Toro said. "This is the feeling you don't want to have weeks from now."