NEW YORK -- It will be an all-Catholic League final for the SNY Invitational championship -- and Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello couldn't be happier.
"I'm extremely happy that it's St. Raymond's-Christ the King in the final," Arbitello said after his Royals knocked off Mount Vernon, 60-55, in the second game on Friday night at City College of New York. "You know what, it proves something about the Catholic school league that it's still a pretty good league."
St. Raymond (11-7) prevailed over New Jersey power St. Anthony's, 64-63, in the first game and will meet Christ the King (12-6) for the SNY Invitational championship on Saturday at 4 o'clock (SNY). Mount Vernon will face two-time SNY Invitational champion and defending New Jersey Tournament of Champions winner St. Anthony's in the consolation game at 2 p.m.
Both New York City schools are seeking their first SNY Invitational title. A year ago, Christ the King lost in the championship game to Cardozo,
"It's a completely different team so we lost it last year," Arbitello said. "We're going to be in the championship against a really good St. Raymond's team [Saturday]. We better be ready to play and we better be ready to guard the guy Isaiah Washington because he's pretty good."
The Minnesota-bound Washington went for 23 points in the first game.
Junior guard Tyson Walker led Christ the King with 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds, sophomore guard Jaylen Davis added 11 points and five boards and sophomore big man Kofi Cockburn tallied 10 points and nine rebounds.
Georgia Tech-bound point guard Jose Alvarado battled foul trouble and was a mixed bag with eight points, five rebounds, two assists and eight turnovers.
"Everybody stepped up and we showed that we can compete, we can do everything, make big shots," Walker said.
Senior guard Noah Morgan paced Mount Vernon with 15 points and seven boards, and senior big man Gregory Calixte tallied 14 points and six rebounds.
Christ the King seemed well in control at 57-44 but Mount Vernon ran off a 10-0 run to cut it to 57-54 after the Royals got sloppy with the ball late.
"I was a little [worried] but you just gotta make shots," Walker said.
Cockburn was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound and made one of two free throws to extend the lead to 58-44 with 19.9 seconds left.
With seven seconds remaining, Alvarado made two foul shots to make it 60-55.
The Royals seized a 35-26 halftime lead behind nine points from Walker and eight from Davis.
Morgan and Calixte both had eight at the break for Mount Vernon.
Now Christ the King is assured of playing St. Raymond twice this season. The teams will also meet Feb. 12 in a Catholic League game."It should be good," Walker said. "We're a good team, they're good. Now we get to play them two times instead of once."