"It feels almost indescribable," the freshman said. "I feel like a superstar when I put it on."That's because of all the great players who have come through the Middle Village school. There's Chamique Holdsclaw, Sue Bird, Shay Doron, Carrem Gay and Tina Charles. There's Lorin Dixon and Sky Lindsay.Now, Oden and Bria Smith have been passed the torch at a school that has won 24 straight CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan titles and is synonymous with high-school girls' basketball in the United States. And they're just freshmen - the first freshmen to play varsity at Christ the King since Clare Droesch in 1998, to be exact."It's amazing," said Smith, a 5-foot-9 guard who is billed as the best ninth-grader in the city. "It's pretty much an honor."Dixon and Lindsay graduated last year and Charles the year before. All three are playing in the Big East now and the Royals were left with less talent than they've had in years. Smith and Oden were slated to play the season on junior varsity, as talented freshmen at CK have done for a decade. Pundits were even saying in the offseason that Christ the King would no longer be the team to beat in Brooklyn/Queens. "Every year there's a demise of Christ the King," coach Bob Mackey said.And the Royals did start off slow with only their first home loss in 16 years, to Amsterdam (N.Y.) Dec. 8. Days later, Mackey petitioned the school's Board of Directors to allow Smith and Oden to be called up to the varsity. Since then, Smith has been the team's leading scorer and Oden is an integral player off the bench. Christ the King is 3-0 in league play after a dominant 58-39 win over Molloy Saturday afternoon."Everyone said they weren't gonna be good," Stanners senior Kerri White said. "They are."Much of that is due to Smith. The Massapequa, L.I., native is an exemplary athlete who can slash to the basket as well as any player in the division and play lockdown defense, as well."She's got great skill, great court sense, great balance," Mackey said. "She may be one of the most talented we've had - ever."And at Christ the King, that's saying something. The 5-foot-8 Oden isn't a pure scorer like Smith at this point in her development, but she's a strong defender and is always around the ball. The Brooklyn native also has a solid mid-range game and her lanky frame leaves room for growth."Nia just does everything," Mackey said. "She has arms that I just can't believe. They're freshmen - that's the scary part."Scary for the rest of the city, that is.Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@
©2008 Community News Group
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