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Still the King: CK girls stifle upstart Molloy

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It was supposed to be a game between two teams going in opposite directions. The Archbishop Molloy girls' basketball team, with its smattering of solid youngsters and senior leaders, was the vogue pick to make noise in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens this season. Christ the King was billed as the teetering giant, coming off its first loss in the Catholic state tournament in almost two decades.

It didn't take the Royals long to show they're still the team to beat for the league crown. Christ the King got out to a 16-point lead to start the game and never looked back in a 58-39 win over Molloy on Saturday night in Middle Village.

"Everyone said they weren't gonna be good," Molloy senior Kerri White said. "They are."

Indeed. The Royals were too athletic and played tremendous perimeter defense on the Stanners, who rely heavily on three-point shooting. It didn't help Molloy that sophomore guard Kelly Robinson sat out the entire first half with a lingering illness. She was the sole reason her team stayed in the game in the second half - Robinson scored 11 points and was the only Stanner in double digits.

For Christ the King (3-0 CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I), freshman guard Bria Smith led the way with 16 points, Geleisa George had 13 and Jael Pena added nine. Taylor Burner (six blocks) and Bianca Martinez, who is still settling in after missing the early season with an ankle injury, were dominant on the boards against a much smaller Molloy (0-2) frontcourt.

The Royals had a scary moment in the second quarter when junior forward Tahira Johnson caught an outlet pass near midcourt and went down awkwardly, twisting her knee. She walked off the floor under her own power, had her knee wrapped and was able to watch the second half of the game behind the Christ the King bench with her leg iced and elevated.

But that's about all the bad news for CK. Molloy guards Shannon LaVelle (nine points) and Marielle Duryea (eight points) were, for the most part, held in check. The Manhattan-bound White (one point) and fellow senior Molly Dreyer (two points) had little impact.

"I said it before the season started," Stanners coach John McGlynn said. "Christ the King is the best team in the league. They have a chance to go undefeated."

The Royals are the favorites to win their 25th consecutive Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title. And this time they might do it a little bit differently: with stifling defense. The All-American talent of the last few years is gone, at least for now.

"Every year there's a demise of Christ the King," Royals coach Bob Mackey said. "Every year we find a new way to invent the wheel...I think we're looking at different ways to do things. You can't coach the team the same way every year."

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

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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