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Calhoun silences hecklers with dominant victory

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Omar Calhoun stroked a dagger three-pointer and waved his arms at his side. It looked like he was telling the Holy Cross crowd to quiet down. But the Christ the King senior guard said he was simply trying to keep his teammates cool.

“The crowd was getting a little hectic,” Calhoun said. “You know I’ve got a young team, so I needed to make sure everyone was under control. A lot of the times, they can get caught up in the crowd. I was telling everyone to calm down.”

In actuality, the UConn-bound superstar didn’t have to do anything. The trey alone silenced the raucous onlookers and Christ the King would hold on for a pivotal 64-60 win over Holy Cross in CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball Jan. 17 in Flushing.

Calhoun finished with 32 points and that huge shot gave CK a 57-50 lead with 2:00 remaining. The game was a little bit of vindication for the player regarded as the city’s best. After a poor performance Jan. 16 on ESPN against nationally ranked Mater Dei (Calif.) and UNLV-bound Katin Reinhardt, haters came out of the woodwork to bash Calhoun on Twitter and Facebook.

“I would think his record speaks for itself,” Christ the King Coach Joe Arbitello said. “He’s the most winningest player in Christ the King history. He’s gonna be the all-time leading scorer. He has a state championship, the first one in 22 years. He has three back-to-back Brooklyn/Queens championships and the CHSAA. So anybody that’s taking shots at him are either jealous that they’re not him or jealous that they don’t go to Christ the King. That’s all I have to say about that.”

Calhoun also went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, including four in a row inside 15 seconds to all but seal the victory. He had 12 points in the final frame.

“During every timeout, every break in the game, we kept saying foul anybody but Calhoun,” Holy Cross Coach Paul Gilvary said. “Then we kept going out and fouling Calhoun.”

The Knights (13-3, 4-1 ‘AA’) actually led 37-33 on a Mairega Clarke basket with 3:18 left in the third quarter before Christ the King (10-6, 4-0) put together an 8-0 spurt in which Calhoun scored four points.

The Royals were sluggish in the first half at times and then again to start the second. It was understandable considering this was their fifth game in six days in three different states. Three of those games came against national powerhouses, including that embarrassing 88-50 loss to Mater Dei.

“That might have been the dumbest thing I’ve ever done,” CK Coach Joe Arbitello said. “It was the most ridiculous thing I could ever do. But I thought it was an experience for guys to be able to play on ESPN.”

Calhoun and Isaiah Lewis, who had 12 points, said it was a good experience, especially as they prepare for high-level college ball and beyond. Winning last week made everyone feel a little bit better about the grueling six-day stretch.

“I think it says a lot for our character,” Arbitello said. “I just wanted a win today. It didn’t have to be pretty.”

Will Davis had 20 points, Clarke had 17 points and nine rebounds and Anthony Libroia added 14 points, including six in the final minute to keep Holy Cross within striking distance. Christ the King junior wing Jordan Fuchs injured his neck and back in the opening minutes and didn’t return due to precautionary measures.

“When he told me a little bit with his neck, a little bit with his back, that was enough for me,” Arbitello said. “He wanted to go back in the game. I wanted to be on the side of caution there. It’s a basketball game. If you lose, you lose.”

Christ the King desperately wanted and needed a win Tuesday, though. After all, that 38-point loss a day earlier in another state was still fresh in their minds.

“A lot of people were talking trash about us,” Calhoun said. “We know we have to stick together. We know we’re a family. At the end of the day, you want to win the title and that’s what it’s all about.”

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