The standing-room crowd at O'Connell High School yesterday expected to see one of the season's best high school girls basketball games.
The previous two meetings between New York's Christ the King, ranked sixth nationally, and O'Connell, ranked fourth locally, had produced a double-overtime victory for Christ the King and an overtime victory for O'Connell.
But yesterday Christ the King turned the game into a 67-36 rout that left the Knights in awe. It was their worst defeat in five years under Coach Jim Spiridopoulos.
"They had their way with us," he said. "They were able to do anything they wanted. We tried a number of different things but they just showed their superiority."
The Royals (19-2) travel the country playing high school's basketball elite, but they considered the game with O'Connell especially significant. O'Connell's 78-67 overtime victory in New York at Christmas broke the Royals' 38-game winning streak and knocked Christ the King from the nation's No. 1 ranking.
"We wanted revenge," said senior guard Debbie Hemery, who, along with teammate Darlene Saar, will play at George Washington next season. "We had it all saved up for today."
Although she didn't lead her team in scoring, Hemery was the best player on the court. Her ball handling negated the Knights' press, and she led a press that produced 22 turnovers.
O'Connnell (21-4), which had won 11 straight, took an 8-2 lead but didn't score another field goal in the remaining five minutes of the first quarter. After Christie Finney, who scored 11 of her 12 points in the first half, made a free throw giving the Knights a 9-5 lead, the Royals surged to a 16-10 edge by the end of the quarter.
Hemery then took over, scoring all 11 of her points in the second quarter. She scored the Royals' first eight points of the period, extending Christ the King's lead to 24-14. They finished the half on a 9-1 run and led, 37-20.