NEW YORK -- Despite trailing by 10 points in the second half of the SNY Invitational championship game, Jose Alvarado and his Christ the King teammates never wavered.
The Royals stormed back to knock off Catholic League-rival St. Raymond, 67-66, to win the title for the first time before a packed crowd on Saturday afternoon at City College of New York.
The Georgia Tech-bound Alvarado finished with 21 points, including shooting 5-of-11 from deep. Sophomore big man Kofi Cockburn was a man among men with 20 points and 15 rebounds en route to the MVP award, as the Royals rebounded from last year's 66-63 loss to Cardozo in the title game.
"We lost last year here," said CTK coach Joe Arbitello. "I didn't want to tell anybody, but I really wanted to come back to win it. I'm glad SNY gave us an opportunity to come back. It means a lot, it means a lot to our program."
Omar Silverio led the Ravens with 18 points, Maykel Valera added 17 and Minnesota-bound point guard Isaiah Washington managed just 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting with six rebounds and three assists despite huge and vocal fan support.
Alvarado said he wasn't especially motivated by the matchup with Washington, but, in the end, he got the better of it.
"No man, I just came here for a good win, looking to win the championship," the 6-foot Alvarado said.
Christ the King trailed 44-34 midway through the third period but closed the quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 47-46 lead. Alvarado hit two 3-pointers during the run and the 6-11 Cockburn had five points.
Alvarado rebounded from a poor performance in Friday's win over Mount Vernon, when he had as many points as turnovers (eight).
"My teammates kept my mind straight," he said. "They said just come out strong. They said, 'This is your game now.'"
With the game tied at 63, Christ the King sophomore Jaylen Davis (13 points) pump-faked on the perimeter, stepped past his defender and calmly hit a mid-range jumper to put the Royals up 65-63.
Silverio then made 1-of-2 to cut the deficit to 65-64 with 58.7 seconds left.
Alvarado then drove to the bucket, got fouled and made 1-of-2 for a 66-64 lead.
Darius Lee tied it up for the Ravens with a putback off the window to knot it at 66 with 22.2 seconds left. He had a chance to put St. Raymond up but missed the and-one free throw.
Cockburn had two foul shots on the other end after getting fouled, but made just the second and the Royals led 67-66 with 18.9 seconds left.
Lee missed a last-second putback attempt for the Ravens, and soon the Royals and their fans were storming the court, celebrating with Alvarado, Cockburn and the Royals.
As Alvarado heads off to play for Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner next season, he will leave the program in good hands, mainly the large hands of the big man Cockburn.
"Hey man, you're going to see a couple more games like that from Kofi," Alvarado said. "He's a great player."