Nazareth tops CK amid controversy

It wouldn't be a Nazareth vs. Christ the King game without some controversy.

While No. 1 Nazareth flexed its strength in a 77-47 road win at No. 6 Christ the King in Middle Village on Saturday, the game was overshadowed by the events surrounding and following the contest. This was the first time the two teams played met since Christ the King canceled a January game following Nazareth coach Apache Paschall's death.

After the game, Nazareth took verbal shots at Christ the King star Sierra Calhoun while Christ the King is going to ask the league to review an incident involving the scorer's book. Both teams are also awaiting the final verdict from the league regarding Nazareth's request to have their first scheduled game ruled as a forfeit for Christ the King.

"It's always a rivalry," Nazareth co-coach Lauren Best said. "I felt Apache with me so we're always going to play them hard when we see them. Even if it's 3-on-3 and they got CK jerseys on."

THE HISTORY: When Paschall died on Jan. 3, Nazareth (11-1) wanted to play its scheduled game against Bishop Ford on Jan. 5 and Christ the King (7-10) on Jan. 7. Both teams, though, canceled the games for administrative reasons. Nazareth played Bishop Ford earlier this week and won convincingly and then followed that up with a huge win against CK.

"We were a little bit upset because it wasn't fair and at the end of it, I don't think anyone should decide how we grieve, anyone, coach, anything," Best said. "That's nobody's decision but ours."

THE INSULTS: The game featured two of the top sophomores in the country in Calhoun and Bianca Cuevas. Cuevas stole the show on this day with 36 points, almost scoring at will whether it was on layups, jumpers or 3-point shots. Calhoun, meanwhile, finished with 18 points but only scored two baskets in the game.

Following the game, Nazareth's players took shots at Calhoun, particularly Cuevas. Faulk said that Cuevas is the best, referring to Calhoun, and she felt today showed Cuevas is better.

"I like going against Calhoun, scoring all her free throws," Cuevas said. "She got all that fame over her brother, so everybody think she's the best in the city."

Added Best: "Bianca is always going to be better."

Calhoun and Christ the King coach Bob Mackey did not return any barbs.

"It is what it is, I let my game do the talking, I don't talk trash," Calhoun told ESPNNewYork.com. "It doesn't surprise me because I know a lot of their character. It is what it is."

Mackey said that you can't compare players since basketball is a team game and he thought his sophomore played a great game.

"I don't take shots at other people's players, take that for what it's worth," Mackey said. "This is the CHSAA, Catholic High School League. In AAU I guess they do that. In AAU, I guess that's how you do things. I don't know. This is the Catholic High School League."

THE BOOK: Mackey said that Nazareth erased a player from the book after the referees signed off on the book. He is going to submit the league's chairperson and let the league look into it. He wasn't exactly sure what could be done but wants to submit it.

Best said she was not aware of what Mackey was talking to. She said every player that was supposed to play in the game on Saturday played against Christ the King.

"They always bring something up to the league about us, what's new," Best said. "That's the Nazareth, Apache Paschall comfort way. We like that. It's in our comfort level."

THE GAME: Nazareth led 15-14 after the first quarter but blew it open in the second quarter with stingy defense and took a 37-23 lead into the half. They led 48-29 after three quarters and pushed the lead to 30 in the final minute for what ended up the final score. Cuevas was the best player on the court with 36 points.

UP NEXT: Nazareth will host Bishop Loughlin on Tuesday while Christ the King will try to rebound from this game when it visits St. Francis Prep.

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