Coming into the final minute of Thursday’s Catholic High School Athletic Association city semifinal game against the Bronx’s Cardinal Hayes at Fordham University, Christ the King star senior Adonis Delarosa had only managed a meager nine points, while his Royals trailed by two points.
With a fifth appearance in the city final in the last six years on the line, Delarosa made sure that it would be the Royals battling Brooklyn rival Bishop Loughlin for the CHSAA city crown on Sunday.
“I’m a senior, so I had to make the game-winning play,” Delarosa said after ensuring his team’s dramatic 49-47 victory. “So I did that.”
The senior center didn’t make just one title berth-clinching play, his intensity under the basket in crunch time on both ends of the floor made the difference.
With 32 seconds left, Hayes center Nathan Ekwu extended his elbow while attempting to gain position on Delarosa in the paint. When the senior threw his head back in an apparent exaggeration of the contact between the two, Ekwu was called for the offensive foul, giving the Royals a chance to tie or win the game in the waning seconds.
“He extended his arm and I did a little acting job there,” he said. “I had to do what I had to do to get the W.”
In a scene right out of a Hollywood movie, Delarosa, who scored 12 points and snared nine rebounds, called for the ball on offense. He got position on Hayes’ Akintoye Ojo and drew a foul on a hook shot that found the bottom of the bucket to tie the ballgame at 47 with 14 seconds left.
The senior would drain the free throw, and after a Hayes missed three and a Travis Atson free throw, Christ the King walked away with the win, setting up a rematch with Loughlin and Seton Hall-bound Khadeen Carrington on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Fordham.
Carrington scored a career-high 42 points in Loughlin’s 90-71 drubbing of the Royals in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title game on Feb. 21., but Delarosa wouldn’t want to play anyone else with the city championship on the line.
“I’m very glad it’s Loughlin,” he said. “We’re going to get them.”
While the senior may be focused on Sunday, Royals coach Joe Arbitello announced on Twitter this week that Delarosa will make his college decision on April 18.
St. John’s University head coach Steve Lavin and assistant coach Tony Chiles were in attendance for Christ the King’s win, along with representatives from programs such as Sacred Heart and Rutgers.
Delarosa said he didn’t even notice Lavin in the crowd and that he will be checking out prospective schools in a few weeks.
“In mid-March, I will be making official visits but I haven’t narrowed anything down yet,” he said. “I don’t have a top five at this point."
Arbitello said that St. John’s, Fordham, Rutgers, Hofstra and South Carolina are the schools that have expressed the most interest in Delarosa, and while the senior says he has no favorites, he isn’t sure if he will play his college ball in the Tri-State area.
“I’m open to everybody,” Delarosa said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be staying in New York for college.”
“I never get into that stuff,” Arbitello added, when asked if he knew where Delarosa was leaning. “We’ll talk about it when the season’s over.”
Christ the King wingman Rawle Alkins added 18 points for the Royals, including 11 in the second half, leading Delarosa to call him “the best wing in New York.” Andre Walker contributed 11 points before fouling out halfway through the fourth quarter.
Arbitello wasn’t as enthusiastic as Delarosa when asked if he was happy about Sunday’s championship game against Loughlin; instead he said he had one simple request for his team: a concentrated effort.
“That’s like saying are you happy if you jumped off a bridge. We have to play Khadeen Carrington and Mike Williams,” he said. “I’m happy it’s going to be a good, competitive game. Now we just have to play as hard as we played tonight.”