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Christ the King point guard Andre Walker, like most high school seniors, didn’t want to lose his final game before graduation.
Walker told his teammates he wanted to go out as a champion in the locker room before the state Federation Class AA championship game against Long Island Lutheran Saturday in Albany, but he saw that dream falling apart as the Royals were trailing the Crusaders by as much as 14 points in the first half.
Then Walker stepped up.
The senior, who has taken a backseat in the scoring category all season, was almost perfect. He notched a game-high 25 points, including 3-for-3 from behind the three-point arc, to defeat Lutheran 58-52 and give Christ the King back-to-back state titles. Walker was named the tournament MVP.
“Somebody needed to step up and he wanted to do it,” junior forward Travis Atson said. “This was going to be his last game before he left high school, and he really didn’t want to go out with a loss.”
In last year’s state title game, guard Rawle Alkins and former Royal Jon Severe, torched Lutheran. So this year the Crusaders prepared for the Royals’ star players. Alkins had just nine points and Atson had only eight.
But this opened up space for other players on the team to shine, and the seniors, Walker, Adonis Delarosa and Bryler Paige, had the necessary motivation. Paige finished with 10 points and Delarosa added six points and 13 rebounds.
Walker attacked aggressively in the third quarter, where he made 13 of his 25 points, proving that he could score if he needed.
“[Fans] only recognize points, but they don’t see what we do,” Walker said. “We can score too, but it’s not our roles on the team.”
Still undecided on where he will continue to play basketball and his education next year, Walker is just happy that he’ll leave Christ the King with winning dynasty intact.
“It feels good,” Walker said. “Only a select few can say they won two state championships, back-to-back.”