ALBANY -- In a game in which the offenses performed frequent disappearing acts, Christ the King manufactured some second-half magic and proved to be a royal pain for Long Island Lutheran.
For the second year in a row, the Royals broke the Crusaders' hearts in the Federation Class AA boys basketball final, rallying from a 14-point first-half deficit to triumph, 58-52. Christ the King beat Lutheran, 72-64, last year.
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This one may have hurt more because LuHi was in control for most of the first half, building a 25-11 lead at one point and leading at the break 25-17. But Christ the King turned up its own defense in the second half, limiting the Crusaders to seven points in the fourth quarter.
Andre Walker, formerly of St. Anthony's, scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Royals (25-6). He also made three steals and was voted tournament MVP. Paige Bryler scored eight of his 10 points in the second half.
Chris Atkinson scored 16 points to lead Lutheran (22-5) but was 0-for-5 on three-pointers as the Crusaders shot only 3-for-14 from downtown.
Devonte Green, looking fairly mobile after an ankle sprain Friday night forced him to miss most of the semifinal game, nailed two treys, scored 10 points, made four steals and even grabbed eight rebounds. Robyn Missa scored eight second-half points and had nine rebounds.
Christ the King erased most of a hefty first-half deficit behind the flashy Walker. He scored nine straight points during one stretch -- on a conventional three-point play plus two very long three-pointers.
Missa, Lutheran's 6-9 center, kept the Crusaders in the game in the third quarter when he scored all eight of his points on a variety of low-post maneuvers, including a nifty tip-in.
But LuHi's other top frontcourt force, 6-7 Marvin Prochet, who had 26 points and 15 rebounds Friday night, had a rough game. He fouled out late in the third quarter when he committed his fourth foul, then incurred a technical foul. Prochet managed only six points but was vocal on the bench as he cheered his team on in the fourth quarter.
The first half was a clinic -- but not for the offenses. It was Lutheran's ferocious man-to-man defense countered by Christ the King's intimidating, shot-altering front line.
Lutheran badgered Christ the King into shooting only 19 percent from the field in the first half (4-for-21), but after building a 25-11 lead -- largely on some scintillating moves by Atkinson -- the Crusaders got sloppy.