Christ the King claims conference title

Christ the King Chicago Basketball
Taylor Gaines warms up before the regular season conference title game. (Jasmine Cannon/MEDILL)

By Jasmine Cannon

Tears and cheers.

In only a matter of minutes, Christ the King girls basketball team went from watching senior point guard Mia Farris sobbing on the bench, to celebrating its fourth consecutive Chicago Prep regular season conference title with a 63-53 victory Tuesday night over Chicago Hope.

It was not the only dramatic swing of the night for the Gladiators. Their 14-point, fourth-quarter lead was cut to five on back-to-back three-pointers from Hope’s Precious Burnham and Deja Southall with less than three minutes left in the game, and to three with just more than a minute left. But a furious Christ the King defensive flurry held Hope scoreless the rest of the way, giving the Eagles their first conference and second overall loss of the year.

Christ the King (Chicago) defeats Chicago Hope 63-53 to claim the Chicago Prep Conference regular season title. (Jasmine Cannon/MEDILL)

While the Gladiators celebrated as they left the court, a smiling Farris was carried off on the back of senior teammate Taylor Gaines with a bag of ice still wrapped around the left ankle she injured in the third quarter.

Farris finished with 12 points, including a three-pointer on a fast break before attacking the basket on the next possession and sustaining the injury.

“It hurt,” Christ the King coach Edward Douglas said about losing Farris, who is expected to return in time for the conference tournament, Feb. 1-4. “I do have players that can come off the bench, they just have to step up now.”

Christ the King scoring and rebounding

Christ the King Chicago Girls Basketball
Christ the King game statistics show a balanced team scoring effort against Hope on Jan. 19, 2016. (Jasmine Cannon/MEDILL)

Hope scoring and rebounding

Hope Academy Chicago Girls Basketball
Hope’s Deja Anderson led the team in scoring and rebounding against Christ the King on Jan. 19, 2016. (Jasmine Cannon/MEDILL)

Perhaps the most valuable player of the night was Nyema Burns, who Douglas predicted would be a major key for the Gladiators. Burns, a 6-2 senior center, scored 10 points and 17 rebounds to go along with six blocks and two steals. She was matched up against Hope’s Deja Anderson, the Eagles’ 6-3 senior center who finished with 15 points but was plagued by foul trouble for much of the game.

“I had to perform,” Burns said. “I had to get the rebounds and stop her from getting all the post moves over me. I have to do my job as a post player and the tallest player on my team.”

From the beginning of the game, Douglas implemented a full-court man-to-man press to force Hope turnovers. The Eagles were prepared and handled the pressure well, especially sophomore guard Andrea Shavers, who scored 13 points in the first half.

Adding their own full-court defensive pressure late in the third quarter was an adjustment Hope coach Scott Cornelius said he wish he would have made earlier.

“When it’s the last game of the year it’s a bad feeling,” Cornelius said. “[With this game] we’re going to learn from it, go to practice tomorrow and enjoy the rest of our ride here together.”

Hope and Christ the King could meet each other again in the conference tournament hosted by the Gladiators.

Christ the King v. Hope game breakdown

Christ the King Hope Academy Girls Basketball
Christ the King senior Nyema Burns’ double-double led the Gladiators to their 63-53 win over Chicago Hope. (Jasmine Cannon/MEDILL)
Photo at top: Taylor Gaines warms up before the regular season conference title game. (Jasmine Cannon/MEDILL)