Tyson Walker received two instructions in the plan drawn up by Christ the King head coach Joe Arbitello during a timeout in the waning seconds on Friday night.
The Royals senior point guard made a decision to use the second option to pass to an open teammate. It turned out to be the right choice.
Ryan Meyers connected on a go-ahead three-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to help Christ the King earn a 56-54 victory over Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens boys basketball diocesan championship game held in front of a standing room only crowd at St. Francis Prep in Queens Friday night.
“He [Arbitello] said if you got it, go. Then if not, pass to Ryan,” Walker said with a smile on his face. “And that’s how it happened. Pass it to Ryan.”
Walker came alive in the second half to score all of his 16 points and junior center Kofi Cockburn added 15 points to give Christ the King (21-5) its third victory over the Stanners this season. The Royals heaved a sigh of relief after Molloy guard Cole Anthony received an inbounds pass and narrowly missed a game-tying shot attempt near the basket as time expired.
Even with new starters and working transfers like Moussa Cisse and Quaran McPherson into the rotation, a talented Christ the King team has been unselfish and clutch in winning 12 out of their last 13 games. The Royals will earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the Intersectional Tournament on March 3 at Fordham University.
“There is something to be said about guys averaging 12 points, instead of scoring 20 points or 30 points,” Arbitello said. “We have a lot of guys who just want to win and when you have guys who want to win, they are going to win and especially when they are that talented.”
In three matchups this season, the Royals dispatched its rivals by only three points or less and Friday night proved to be a similarly close encounter. Molloy had trailed by as much as seven points in the first half before rallying to tie the game at 22 going into halftime.
In a game starring talented big men like Cockburn and the 6-11 Moussa Cisse facing UCLA bound 7-foot Moses Brown on Molloy, it was the guards that stepped up to the forefront to make an impact.
Walker made his mark in the second half despite visibly massaging a right thigh injury suffered during the Royals’ first win over Molloy in Middle Village on a nationally televised game February 2. The senior scored the first seven points of the third quarter and drained back-to-back buckets to give Christ the King a 40-35 lead late in the third quarter.
‘Just trying not to lose,” Walker remarked about his effort in the second half. ”That’s really what it was. I just had to start off the quarter good.”
The Stanners had trailed for the entire contest until junior guard Cole Anthony sparked the comeback with a terrific fourth quarter performance. Anthony, scored 14 of his 32 points down the stretch and acrobatically finished off a reverse layup along with hitting the ensuing free throw to level the game at 53-all with 21.7 left.
Arbitello has credited his talented team for being unselfish in big moments and that came with seconds remaining. Myers got open at the top of the key to knock down his third 3-pointer of the contest to give the Royals a 56-53 lead.
A traveling called assessed to the Royals gave Molloy one last shot to tie the game with 0.4 seconds left yet Anthony could not pull off the quick catch and shoot 10 feet away from the rim to level the game. Molloy (14-12) will next play in the second round of the city playoffs either next Wednesday or Thursday.