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Big win: CK’s sophomore center steps up in CHSAA semifinal victory

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Roland Brown is as quiet and reserved as he is big. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound behemoth of a center has been saying all season that his sole intention, as a sophomore, is helping Christ the King seniors Erving Walker and Ryan Pearson win their second straight CHSAA Class AA intersectional title.

But sometime along the way - after CK's Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan semifinal loss to Holy Cross, to be exact - Walker and Pearson told Brown he wasn't doing enough, that he wasn't meeting his bear-sized potential. And they didn't say it just once either.

"Maybe twice a day," Brown said.

He certainly did his part in the Royals' quest to repeat Wednesday night. Brown scored 14 points and made two plays coach Bob Oliva has never seen from him - a power dunk and taking a charge - in Christ the King's comfortable 69-56 win against Bishop Loughlin in the CHSAA Class AA city semifinals at St. John's University's Carnesecca Arena.

The big man is not exactly known for high-flying acrobatics, but he had no problem getting enough air to slam one home on two Loughlin defenders to make it 43-33 with 2:14 left in the third quarter.

"I was shocked," Pearson said with a laugh. "I was just happy for him."

CK (22-5) will meet Holy Cross, which beat Rice in the other semifinal Wednesday, in the CHSAA city final Sunday at Fordham at 3 p.m. It'll be the first all-Queens final since Holy Cross and Mater Christi (now St. John's Prep) met in 1978.

For once, the two CK seniors didn't have to do all the work against Loughlin. Pearson did lead the team with 23 points, but Walker had only eight. The Florida-bound point guard was content with dishing to his teammates. Junior Sean Johnson, like Brown, had 14 points.

"That's what [Oliva] wanted," Pearson said. "He said, 'I don't need you two scoring 30 points apiece.'"

Pearson had 33 and Walker had 27 in Christ the King's semifinal win against St. Raymond's. But Johnson made the first basket of the game - a three-pointer - and was smooth thereafter. He's gotten into a much better rhythm after sitting out two games due to two technical fouls in a game against St. Francis Prep in January.

Kevin Phillip led Loughlin (21-6) with 17 points and Laurelton resident Doron Lamb added 13. The Lions beat the Royals twice during the regular season. That served as motivation for Christ the King.

"This is who we wanted most," Pearson said.

On the other hand, CK beat Holy Cross twice in the regular season, but fell to the Knights in the aforementioned B/Q semifinals. The winner of the city championship will automatically go upstate for the New York state Federation tournament in Glens Falls.

Perhaps it's not a coincidence that it was after the Cross game when Pearson and Walker got on Brown about stepping up.

"Roland Brown, I think today came of age," Oliva said.

There's just a little more growing to do for Christ the King's big man.

"It's really Erv and Ryan's time," Brown insisted. "Not mine."

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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