Saturday: Girl's Championship
*(1) Christ the King vs (2) Mary Louis Academy*
_Christ the King wins 67-53_
For the second time in as many days, Christ the King celebrated a B/Q championship. This time, it was the ladies who clamped down and wore out their opponent en route to a title.
The Christ the King Royals, led by junior guard Bria Smith's 18 points, wore out the Mary Louis Hilltoppers 67-53 saturday night at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows.
Smith, playing with an injured ankle, earned high praise from head coach Bob Mackey, who called her performance "gutsy."
The Royals came out swinging, racing to a quick 10-4 lead on a traditional 3-point play by Tahira Johnson with 3:31 left in the 1st. Karin Robinson countered with a basket to pull the Hilltoppers within four, but Bria Smith responded with a 3-point play of her own.
Ariel Edwards added a basket with 50 seconds remaining , and Christ the King carried held an 18-7 lead after the first quarter.
Shortly before the conclusion of the quarter, Royals junior forward Tahira Johnson went down with a knee injury. She did not return to the game. Mackey insisted that she'd be ok with rest.
In the second, the Hilltoppers scored the first five points of the quarter, pulling to within 18-12, and from there the two teams traded baskets for the most of the quarter. But with 1 minute remaining in the quarter, Jacqueline Michel nailed a big three, giving the Royals a 31-23 lead. Jackie Kresse responded with a jumper just before halftime, and the Royals went into the lockers with a 32-25 lead.
Edwards and Smith scored twice to open the third, pushing the Royal lead to 11 before Robinson put Mary Louis' first points on the board with 6:49 remaining. Robinson added a three to pull the Hilltoppers back within four points, but Smith nailed a big three with 2:15 remaining to put Christ the King up 44-36.
Mary Louis' Reana Mohamed failed to convert the free throw on a three point play, and Christ the King led 46-38 after three.
In the fourth the Royals came out with a flurry, as Edwards and Nia Oden hit baskets and Eliana Scanlon nailed a three to push the lead to 53-38 with 6:40 to play. Mary Louis responded with a basket from Camille Romero, but Oden took control down the stretch, scoring two baskets in 40 seconds to give Christ the King a 60-42 lead. Robinson hit a three, but Smith responded with three points of her own to push the lead to 65-47 with 2:20 to play. Smith nailed two free throws, and Mohamed and Robinson scored baskets for the game's final points.
_All Games Take place at Christ the King High School_
*Friday: Boy's Championship*
*(1) Christ the King vs (3) Xaverian*
_Christ the King wins 66-60_
After three years of wandering in the desert, the Christ the King Royals are back on top, but it was not easy. The Xaverian Clippers, a team that upended second-seeded Bishop Loughlin in the semifinals, pushed the Royals to limit.
But in the end, there was too much Maurice Barrow, too much Corey Edwards, and too much Sean Johnson.
Johnson scored a team-high 29 points to lead Christ the King over Xaverian 66-60.
"He does everything. Every-thing," gushed Royals coach Joe Arbitello after the game. "There's nothing he doesn't do."
Playing before a split crowd, Xaverian went to work quickly, taking an 8-6 lead on a basket by Jamal Fuentes with 4:39 to play in the quarter. Maurice Barrow answered for the Royals at the other end, tying the game at 8 with 2:50 left.
Sean Johnson, who scored a 33 against Molloy on thursday night, gave Christ the King a 14-11 lead with a traditional 3-point play with 24.2 left in the quarter, but Filip Bochkov answered with a trey right before the end of the quarter, tying the game at 14.
Bochkov opened the second wit another three, and Xaverian showed poise as the gym filled with more Royals fans, taking a 6 point lead on a 3 by Justin Exum.
Johnson pulled Christ the King back within 3 on a three point play, and the Royals withstood a barrage of baskets from Xaverian senior Yandell Denis to take a 29-28 lead into the locker room.
The two teams traded baskets to start the third, with the score tied at 33-33 with 5:32 to play.
But from there, Christ the King flipped the switch, using an 8-0 run over two minutes to take a 41-33 lead.
Johnson nailed another three just before the end of the quarter to put the Royals up 10 heading into the final quarter.
Denis tried valiantly to keep the Clippers close, pulling his team within 9 on a basket with 4:42 to play. But a Maurice Barrow dunk with 3:04 remaining started the celebration for Royals fans. Xaverian pulled within 5 with 34.3 to play on a basket by guard Rasheem King, but by then it was too little too late.
The Royals will now prepare for the next level.
"We've gotta prepare for the city championship." Johnson said.
Arbitello meanwhile, wants his team to feel good about themselves.
"We can enjoy this for tonight," he said.
*Thursday: Girl's Semifinals*
* 7:00pm (1) Christ the King vs (5) Bishop Ford*
_Christ the King wins 60-42_
_Tahira Johnson and the Royals rose above the Falcons._
Talk about an easy night.
Christ the King showed the value of a first round bye, jumping out to an early lead and never letting up en route to a 60-42 throttling of Bishop Ford.
The Royals, the top seed in the tournament, jumped out to an early 17-8 lead on a three-pointer by Jacqueline Michel with 1:35 left in the first quarter, and from there, it was already over.
The Royals were paced by Ariel Edwards, who led a balanced attack with 15 points.
The Royals will advance to the finals to play the second seeded Mary Louis Hilltoppers.
*5:30pm (2) Mary Louis Academy vs (3) Molloy*
_Mary Louis wins 64-55_
_Karin Robinson and the Mary Louis Academy will play for the B/Q title Saturday night_
Molloy's hopes of an upset came crashing down against the second-seeded Mary Louis Academy, who used a strong 4th quarter to down the Stanners.
The game was very close for the first three quarters, as Molloy led 14-10 at halftime, and 39-38 after three.
Victory was still very much up in the air halfway through the 4th, as Nicolette Marciniak tied the game at 42 with a basket with 6:24 left in the quarter. But the Hilltoppers responded with a 7-0 run, puntuated by Karin Robinson's basket with 4:36 left.
The Hilltoppers advance to face the winner of the Christ the King/Bishop Ford tilt.
*Wednesday: Boy's Semifinals*
*7:30 (1) Christ The King (21-3, 11-2) vs (4) Molloy (14-18, 6-7)*
_Christ the King wins 87-85_
_Maurice Barrow (15) and the Royals survived Russell Smith's (bottom right) superhuman performance_
Holy Smokes, I cannot describe how incredible this game was. Each team had it's star player show up. For Christ the King, it was Sean Johnson, who scored a gutty 33 points despite struggling with his jumpshot. For Molloy, it was the superhuman Russell Smith, who exploded for an incredible 47 points.
Christ the King established control early, taking a 40-30 lead with 2:30 left in the first half on a basket by Corey Edwards, who had 21 points in his own right.
Molloy responded in the third quarter, grabbing a 52-47 lead on a 3 by Ernest Rouse with 5:25 to play. After 3, Molloy held a 65-62 lead.
The fourth quarter was absolutely incredible, as Smith and Johnson took turns energizing and demoralizing fans with jumpers, layups and 3's. Smith cut Christ the King's lead down to 1 with a 3 pointer with 4:03 to play. But in the end there was too much Johnson, who converted a big three-point play with 28.5 remaining to give Christ the King an 86-81 lead.
With the win, Christ the King will advance to the Finals, where they will face the surprising Xaverian team.
*6:00pm (2) Loughlin (15-9, 8-5) vs (3) Xaverian (12-12, 6-7)*
_Xaverian wins 59-39_
_Justin Exum powered Xaverian into the Finals_
Is there ever such a thing as a 20-point upset? Loughlin entered as the favorite, but playing without JayVaughn Pinkston (academically ineligible) for the fifth straight game, Loughlin's wheels game off against Xaverian.
Xaverian took a 20-12 halftime lead, and continue to pour it on in the third, going up by 15 on a 3 pointer by Justin Exum with 1:11 to play in the quarter.
As stunned Loughlin fans watched, Xaverian players hit their free throws in the fourth quarter and cruised to an easy victory.
After the game, Xaverian coach Jack Alesi acknowledged the void caused by Pinkston's absence. "They're obviously a different team without JayVaughn Pinkston."
Alesi can now look ahead to the Christ the King/Molloy winner.
"We know what's ahead of us." Alesi said.