The Royals shot 17-for-57 from the field and 1-for-14 from 3-point range, numbers that added up to a 57-37 loss to Xaverian in the CHSAA 'AA' semifinals at St. John's University. The Clippers, winners of seven games in a row, will meet Rice, which defeated All Hallows 75-67 in overtime in the other semifinal, at Fordham University in the title game.The defeat ended what had been a remarkable run for the Royals this season. They finished undefeated in league play and won several miracle overtime games that seemed to offer the perception that luck and fortune were definitely on their side. The Royals (24-3) lost some of that luster once the playoffs began, though, first losing to Bishop Loughlin in the Brooklyn-Queens semifinals, and then to a Xaverian team it had beaten twice before."They outplayed us," said coach Bob Oliva. "We were a notoriously bad shooting team all season. We had won 22 games in a row, but in five or six of those games, we couldn't make any shots. With the way we shot the ball, we should have been an under .500 team. This was supposed to be our year, too. We had a lot of wins, but no hardware."The Royals missed from long distance; they missed from medium range; they missed from close to the basket. It was as if they were playing an inverted game of horse, with the winner decided by who missed the most shots. Normally a deadly sharpshooter, Columbia-bound Niko Scott went 2-for-11 from the field and finished with 5 points. Senior Akeem Gooding led the team with 11 points and 17 rebounds. Four of Christ the King's starters are graduating, an exodus that made the loss even more painful. Davis, a junior, will be left to fend for himself next year. "We weren't playing together," said Davis, who finished with 9 points. "We waited until halftime to pick it up. Instead of playing the full 32 minutes, we played only 16. I'm heartbroken right now."Xaverian's Saiquon Stone, a 6-foot-6 senior, finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds, and baffled which ever defender Oliva threw at him. Three different players took turns guarding him and all of them failed, unable to contend with his mixture of strength and speed. Stone, who missed two weeks of the season with bruised ribs and had to pick up the slack when Mike Davis transferred to Banneker, was able to muscle his way to the basket on virtually every possession. His layup at the start of the fourth quarter sparked an 11-4 run by Xaverian."With Saiquon, it all begins with heart," said Clippers coach Jack Alessi, who lost in the title game last year and will be going for his first city championship. "He's unique because he is so difficult to guard. In big games, great players have to play great." After scoring 5 unanswered points, Christ the King trailed 34-30 with four minutes left in the third quarter. Alessi called a timeout, and Xaverian (19-11) answered with a 3-pointer by Brian McKenzie and finished the quarter outscoring the Royals, 8-1. Playing his customary floor-general role, Pittsburgh bound Levance Fields handed out 4 assists and scored 13 points, two of them on a brilliant crossover pull-up jumper that gave the Clippers a 42-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter. "Christ the King had beaten us twice already, and I said there was no way that they were going to beat us again," Stone said. "I feel like we're clicking right now. We feel like we can't lose."Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.
©2005 Community News Group
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