New York High School: Steven Gomez

Game of the Week: CK 74, Wings 65

December, 29, 2011
The Christ the King Royals fell behind early against Wings Academy, but tied the game in the third and played a commanding fourth quarter to win 74-65 in the semifinals of the STOP-DWI Holiday Classic in Binghamton on Thursday night. The loss was Wings Academy's first loss of the season after a perfect 10-0 start. Christ the King improves to 4-1.

Christ the King's star Omar Calhoun led his team with 28 points, Isaiah Lewis had 21, and Jon Severe had 19 with most of those points coming in a big fourth quarter. Justin Jenkins led the Wings with 25 points.

“The Wings are a very good team and they were tough on us early,“ Christ the King head coach Joe Arbitello said. “But we started to speed the game up on them a little bit in the second half. We forced them to play at a pace they didn't want to and we were able to finish strong.”

The Royals actually came out of the gate quickly in this one, as they led 11-4 in the first five minutes of the game. However, they quickly ran into a speed bump as the Wings peeled off a 10-0 run that put them right back into the game. Lewis, who didn’t miss a single first-half field goal, and Calhoun scored late baskets to put the Royals up 15-14 after one.

The second quarter wasn’t pretty for Christ the King as Jenkins got help from Damian Davis and Steven Gomez to put together a nice run that left them with a 34-29 lead at half time.

“We were getting beat on a lot of hustle plays and we were getting killed on the boards,” Arbitello explained. “Guys come out and they want to play Christ the King, it's the big game of the year for them. I think you saw that in the second quarter where they were really hyped up to play and we were a little flat.”

In the second half, the biggest thing that changed was the tempo of the game. Like they have done a few times already this season, the Royals picked up the pace of their game after half time and quickly closed in on the Wings lead and then started commanding the game in the fourth quarter.

“I think their experience just kicked in, in that fourth quarter,” said Wings head coach Billy Turnage. “In that type of a ball game, they have the advantage because I probably have just two guys who have done that before. The rest are playing under fire.”

Severe, who had been quiet offensively throughout most of the game, woke up and started making baskets. Calhoun also had a big fourth quarter and after he hit a three-pointer with just 2:02 left to put his team up 68-59, the game was over.

“That's the difference between Omar and a lot of players, Arbitello said. “He's just a little more productive. Some guys can rack up a lot of points, but he does it when it matters.”

Both teams will be in action on Friday in day three of the tournament. Christ the King is in the finals and will take on the winner of Thursday night’s Neumann Goretti (Pa.)/St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) game. The loser of that game will take on the Wings for third place.
NEW YORK -- The players and head coach of the Cardinal Hayes boys basketball team still felt the sting of Wednesday's loss to Archbishop Molloy three days later. They couldn't get over blowing a double-digit lead in that loss.

Knocking off undefeated Wings Academy 45-42 in the Big Apple Basketball Challenge on Saturday afternoon certainly helped alleviate the pain.

"It still hurts right now," junior Amadou Sidibe said of the Molloy loss. "But this win, it's helping us a little bit get over it."

Cardinal Hayes upset No. 7 Wings Academy in a game that came down to the final seconds at Baruch College in Manhattan. It was the middle game in a five-game challenge between 10 teams from the Public Schools Athletic League and Catholic High Schools Athletic Association.

"It means a lot because I think that we are kind of underrated compared to Wings," Sidibe said. "But today showed that we can compete with any team in the city."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: In a low-scoring affair, Hayes (5-2) made more plays down the stretch than Wings. The two teams were tied at 31 heading into the third quarter and neither team led by more than one basket during the fourth quarter.

Cardinal Hayes did an effective job on defense, holding the potent Wings offense to just 30.4 percent shooting. It was also able to win the rebound battle 46-36, with Sidibe grabbing 14 rebounds and Jalen Jenkins, who was named the game's MVP, had eight rebounds.

Both players are 6-7 or taller and weigh more than 200 pounds and seemed to present matchup problems all day, especially on the boards.

"The big key was we outrebounded them. I personally outrebounded them," Sidibe said. "Me and Jaylen and Fadil (Yacoubou), they couldn't compete with us on rebounds."

TURNING POINT: Wings Academy (7-1) took a 40-38 lead on a 3-pointer by Deonte Houston with around two minutes left, but Cardinal Hayes used a 7-2 run to end the game and pull out the victory.

Sidibe pulled down an offensive rebound and scored on the putback while being fouled to tie the game, and he hit the successive free throw to give the Cardinals a lead it would never relinquish. Hayes boosted its lead to 43-40 before Houston sliced the lead back to one, but he missed his free throw that would've tied the game.

With less than 10 seconds left and Hayes leading 43-42, Steven Gomez missed a 3-pointer that would've given Wings the lead.

"It's nice to win a game down the stretch especially because when you lose a close game, as the coach you really feel like's its your fault," Cardinal Hayes head coach Joe Lods said. "We played OK. We were fortunate to win tonight but I’ll take it."

STAR OF THE GAME: Jenkins was named MVP of the game for his 14-point, eight-rebound effort. His layup with 55 seconds left gave the Cardinals a 43-40 lead and he scored five of his 14 points in the final quarter.

"Today my job was to basically provide energy and provide an offense for my team and defense," Jenkins said, "so that my team could get themselves going and we could win the game."

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Wings had not scored below 72 points in any of its league games this season before Satrurday. The team shot just 2-of-20 from 3-point range and was 17-of-56 overall from the field.

"People will say 2-for-20, that's a lot of 3s, but that's how we play," Wings coach Billy William Turnage said. "I want to say we took 20 3s and 16 of them were good shots. You can't be mad at that -- those are shots that we take on a consistent basis, practice, games, that we make, and we just didn't make them today."

QUOTE OF THE GAME: "This is a very important game. We're stepping onto a big court and the biggest stage we've played on in a couple of years, so for us to come out here and play as professionals, it was a great job." --Jenkins

UP NEXT: Cardinal Hayes will head to Staten Island on Tuesday to take on Moore Catholic at 4:30 p.m. Wings hosts JFK in a Bronx AA game Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.