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.