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CK boys’ squad has high hopes for healthy Barrow

The last thing Maurice Barrow remembers is going up for a dunk. What followed was a stunning fall to the hard floor, face first, that silenced a standing room-only crowd last Jan. 25.

While on the court, the then-sophomore on the Christ the King junior varsity team suffered two seizures, his body shaking violently, and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was diagnosed with a severe concussion.

“I was really worried for his life,” JV Coach and varsity assistant Artie Cox said.

Preparing for their game against Holy Cross, the Christ the King varsity only heard a “boom, a loud thud,” senior Sean Johnson recalled.

“It was something we never want to relive again,” said Althea Brisco, wife of his AAU coach, Tom Brisco, who Barrow refers to as his “second mother.”

“I don’t even remember,” Barrow said.

He’s tried to put the ordeal behind him. And the Royals are the beneficiaries.

Barrow, Cox said, was the best player on the JV level in the entire city last year, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds. He retuned two days later as a bystander and suited up in the opening round of the playoffs, leading the Royals to the finals, a loss to Archbishop Molloy.

The imposing 6-foot-4 forward from Hollis with broad shoulders and a sculpted body fit for absorbing contact has slid in nicely with this new group of Royals, a starting forward on a team with high expectations. In two games, he has scored 24 points, tallying 16 in the season-opening win over Jamaica and eight in Friday’s 72-40 rout of Martin Van Buren. In fact, interim coach Joe Arbitello would like him to look for his shot more.

“We want him to be our second or third option,” Arbitello said. “He has a lot of tools. He can be a big-time player.”

Cox added: “He can handle the ball, shoot the ball, play inside, play outside. He makes everyone better.”

Already, Division I schools are interested in the versatile junior. Hofstra, Manhattan, Fordham and Arkansas, Cox said, have reached out to him. Obviously, Barrow has work to do. He needs to improve the range on his jumper and continue to work hard.

Just being in this position, Barrow said, is surprising. When he arrived in Middle Village as a freshman, he was in awe of the talent surrounding him: future Division I players like Ryan Pearson, Erving Walker, Larry Davis, Andrew Gabriel and Malik Boothe. He had to work hard just to compete on the freshman team. Now, he is not only playing in the late game — varsity always goes last — but starting and contributing one of the keys to CK’s championship dreams.

“It’s a shock to me,” he said. “I feel like I’m a new man basically.”

Try as he may to forget the hard fall, it still follows him around. For weeks thereafter, classmates and teachers asked him how he felt. Barrow couldn’t answer. He didn’t know what happened. But it has had a profound effect on him.

“He was always determined, but now he’s on another level of determination,” Brisco said. “He wants to be that [special] player.”

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