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Full roster can’t help CK hold off St. Ray’s

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Published reports, widespread speculation and rampant rumors surrounded the Christ the King boys varsity basketball team, heading into Friday night’s much-anticipated match-up with the St. Raymond’s Ravens at the Middle Village school.

More than one source pointed to one or two members of the Christ the King team as taking part or witnessing an alleged gang rape of a fellow student which took place in late October, resulting in the eventual expulsion of four male students from the school.

But when the Royals took the floor Friday, all 14 members of the ranked Christ the King club took the floor, all ready and eligible to play.

“No I don’t think so, not for me it hasn’t,” responded head coach Bob Oliva when asked if all the reports — substantiated or otherwise — had been a distraction to the team in the days leading up to the game. “You have to say two words. ‘No comment,’ which is what I’m saying again. How much of a distraction is that?”

“As you saw, we had a full complement of guys out there tonight,” he added. “So it ended all the speculation if one of our guys was involved in something.”

Unfortunately for CK, having a full roster did not help the Royals get past St. Ray’s. Overcoming a nine-point halftime deficit, the Ravens rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Royals 22-9 to take a 52-48 lead into the fourth en route to a 77-68 win.

Christ the King (15-4, 6-2) controlled much of the early going by running-and-gunning, using the team’s overall speed advantage to capitalize on a Ravens team that seemed shell-shocked through much of the first half.

Justin Marshall (12 points) had 8 first-quarter points to help CK take a 21-17 lead into the second, where CK continued to dominate. After St. Ray’s took a two-point lead after outscoring CK 8-2 early in the second, sophomore Chris Martin buried a three at 3:57, starting a 16-5 run to end the half.

“I was upset,” said St. Ray’s coach Oliver Antigua. “I thought one guy in the first half played his rear-end off in the first half. That was Gavin [Grant]. I challenged the other guys to play with the same energy, to step up, and that’s what they did.

“The first half Gavin was phenomenal and did a great job for us,” he added. “In the second half a lot of guys stepped up. It was good to see the contribution of a lot of players.”

Less than five minutes into the second half, CK’s lead was gone. Led by Grant (13 points, 10 rebounds), Louis McCroskey (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Brian Laing (14 points), St. Ray’s quickly turned the tide.

The Ravens (14-3) began to pressure the ball, forcing CK senior Japhet McNeil to have one of his worst games of the season, scoring just 8 points, all in the first half. Late in the game, Oliva replaced McNeil with sophomore Robert Torres, who played well enough down the stretch for Oliva to keep him in most of the fourth quarter.

The Royals did not go quietly, however. Despite McNeil’s struggles, CK cut the lead to two when Martin converted the traditional three-point play with 4:02 remaining in regulation. But that was as close as the Royals would get.

Seven straight points by St. Ray’s, including a basket by Queens native Corey Simons (9 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds), pushed the lead to nine with 2:31 remaining. The lead grew to 12 thanks to some clutch free-throw shooting by Simons, Ricky Torres (15 points) and Laing, but a three by Andrian Serrano at the buzzer for CK closed the final gap to nine.

“We absolutely came out flat,” Oliva said of his team in the second half. “St. Raymond’s absolutely came out on fire and turned it right around. I’m very disappointed with our effort. The outcome obviously is disappointing, but the effort is much more disappointing.

“Our transition offense didn’t supply us with points like it did in the first half,” he added. “It was just a whole momentum shift.”

Xaverian 72, Archbishop Molloy 61. The Stanners dropped a heartbreaker Sunday, as Chris Taft scored 25 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in leading his Clippers to the win. The others who scored in double figures for Xaverian, Lavance Fields (15 points), Rudolph Mitchell (13 points) and Saiquon Stone (11 points), countering a stellar game by Molloy’s Ivan Marnika (18 points). Sundiata Gaines (14 points), Marlon Smith (13 points) and Otoja Abit (12 points) also provided offense for Molloy, now 12-8 overall and 5-5 in league play.

St. Edmund Prep 74, St. John’s Prep 73. Chris Bernard scored 20 points, including the game-winner, as St. Edmund edged the Red Storm in a battle of two of the top ‘B’ league teams in the CHSAA. St. John’s Prep’s streak of seven straight wins came to a close with the loss as the team fell to 13-6 overall and 9-3 in the league.

Christ the King 64, Holy Cross 51. Brian Williams scored a team-high 14 points, while Mitchell Beauford and Chris Martin added 12 points each for the Royals in a win Sunday over the Knights, now 11-9, 3-6.

St. Francis Prep 69. Tilden 59. Junior guard Bryan Geffen continued to pace the Terriers’ offense, scoring 17 points to help his team to a non-league win over Tilden Friday. Prep is 13-6 overall.

St. John’s Prep 73, Nazareth 37. Bryan Dunston registered a double-double, scoring 13 points with 10 rebounds, while Serge Clement added 12 for the Red Storm in this league win.

Holy Cross 69, All Hollows 58. The surprising Knights got an all-star outing from Gordon McKenzie, who scored a game-high 25 points in this league win.

Christ the King 66, Xaverian 47. Despite 23 points and 13 rebounds from Taft, Beauford had 14 and McNeil 12 to carry CK to the win last week.

Archbishop Molloy 112, Monsignor McClancy 63. Smith scored 32, Gaines poured in 26 and Marnika added 18 as the Stanners cruised past the Crusaders last week.

Bishop Loughlin 71, Holy Cross 55. Ramone Modesto paced the Knights with 18.

St. John’s Prep 55, Fordham Prep 46. Clement scored 15 and Jack Fulcher added 12 for St. John’s Prep.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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