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Tired Christ the King loses hold on first place

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Christ the King was playing its fourth game in eight days and its performance showed it.

The Royals girls’ basketball team was sluggish from the get-go. It was continually beaten to loose balls and rebounds by Nazareth and committed costly mental mistakes. Christ the King never got on track, playing without star wing Sierra Calhoun (knee) for the fourth straight game.

“It’s been hard without Sierra,” junior wing Shannon Barrett said. “We try to step up. That last four days have just been tiring.”

The poor performance and a 60-49 road loss to Nazareth Friday knocked the Royals out of first place and into third in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I. A win following victories over Bishop Ford, Bishop Loughlin and Mary Louis would have forced a potential three-way tie atop the league with Ford and Archbishop Molloy.

“It was frustrating on the court that people didn’t step up,” Barrett said.

The Lady Kingsmen, who were playing without suspended star guard Bianca Cuevas, dictated the pace and pushed CK around in the paint. They used an 11-2 third quarter run to open up what was just a four-point halftime lead to 46-34 with 3:25 left to play in the quarter. Nazareth, which lost the first meeting, was motivated to show it could beat one of the league’s top teams without Cuevas.

“We are proving that we are just as good as everybody else,” Lady Kingsmen forward Yasmine Belk said. “We can beat everybody else and we don’t need Bianca to prove it.”

Belk scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Shiclasia Brown added 15 points for Nazareth (13-9, 4-7). Taylor Butigian tallied 15 points for Christ the King (16-8, 9-3) Barrett had 14 and Kollyns Scarbrough added 10.

Barrett, who has been starting in place of Calhoun, was a big bright spot in Mackey’s eyes. She shot the ball well and wasn’t afraid to mix it up inside against bigger and stronger players.

“She’s had a great week,” Mackey said. “She’s played really well. She hit some big shots for us. She’s doing a nice job on the boards. She’s bringing the ball up. She’s kind of doing everything.”

Even though the Royals couldn’t complete a perfect week, Mackey believes their overall success without Calhoun will only make them strong when she likely returns for the playoffs. They just need to put this loss behind them.

“I thought we would have a little more fire,” Mackey said. “I’m a little disappointed. You pick it up next week and you get back in and go.”

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