By Brian Towey
The 6-foot-7 Barrett, a Central Connecticut State signee, helped the Royals withstand a late Prep surge, dominating the glass and ultimately coming up with a crucial pair of blocks in the game's final minute.
Trailing 54-42 with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter, the Terriers pieced together a 14-4 run behind spindly senior Rashad Bell. Bell was a thorn in the Royals' side all game, grappling in the paint for rebounds with Christ the King's big men and luring defenders out onto the perimeter when they pushed up on him underneath. King (5-6) could do little to combat the forward's versatility, as Bell collected 21 points and 14 rebounds and closed the gap to two on an emphatic dunk with 12.4 seconds left.
It was the previous possession, however, that helped seal the win for King, as Barrett turned away three straight Terrier shots, leading to two Peedy Wilson free throws that helped staunch the bleeding. After Prep had trimmed the Royal lead to two with a chance to tie or take the lead, Barrett's rejections helped Christ the King gain some momentum back on the game's most crucial possession.
“That was the game right there,” said Christ the King head coach Bob Oliva. “[Barrett] was tremendous the last five minutes down the stretch.”
Oliva noted that the late game drama was typical of many of his team's matchups with Prep, particularly those in the opposing gym.
“Throughout the years, it seems like every game we have against Prep comes down to the wire,” Oliva said. “Especially here.”
Despite inspired play from Bell and senior swingman Kevin White (12 points, six rebounds, seven assists), Prep could not overcome the 12-point deficit laid before it in the fourth quarter.
“Rashad responded very well at the end of the game,” said St. Francis head coach Tim Leary. “[Bell and White] are the guys that have to carry us.”
Both sides survived a scare at 4:55 in the third quarter, with King leading 34-29. Royals forward Brian Williams, going up for a rebound, came down awkwardly on his shoulder, crumpling to the floor. The sophomore lay motionless in the paint for nearly 20 minutes while trainers and coaches attended to him before paramedics wrapped Williams' upper arm in a splint and helped him onto a stretcher.
“I'm not sure what Brian's status is,” Oliva said. “He is a good part of this team, so we'll have to see.”
When the action resumed both teams were clearly rusty from the lay-off, exchanging baskets before the Royals opened the game up, keyed by Barrett's dominance in the post and Prep's troubles with its zone defense.
“The zone kind of stymied them for a while in the fourth quarter,” Oliva said. “But we didn't help them with missed free throws and turnovers down the stretch.”
Nelson, who tallied 17 points and hauled in eight rebounds, aided the Royals with his clutch shooting in the game's final minutes, generating offensive opportunities with his assertiveness on the glass and moves in the post. Barrett finished with 22 for CK.
Christ the King will host Bishop Loughlin Friday at 7:30 p.m., while St. Francis Prep will travel to take on Monsignor McClancy, also at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Holy Cross 85, Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) 42. The Knights had five scorers in double figures in the team's 43-point win at the Jimmy V. High School Challenge in upstate Troy. Chris Fileti led the way with 5 points, followed by Michael Howell and Sean Wallace with 13 apiece, Joe Marino with 12 and Adam Frederick with 10. The Knights improved to 12-1 overall with the win.
Cathedral Prep 84, Salesian 46. Leading scorer Thomas Czaplinski led the Crusaders with 21 points, followed by Emmit Toner with 10, as Cathedral upped it league mark to 6-2, 12-3 overall.
St. Edmund 75, St. John's Prep 57. The Red Storm fell to the Eagles last week, as Matt Vitale and Andres Pope combined for 36 points.
Archbishop Molloy 73, St. Francis Prep 50. Hofstra-bound Wendell Gibson registered a triple-double in his team win over the Terriers last week, scoring 20 points with 18 rebounds and 10 blocks. John Sikiric added 17 points for the Stanners, who improved to 9-3 overall and 2-0 in league play.
Holy Cross 61, Bishop Loughlin 60. Marino led the Knights with 26 and Fileti had 16, but it was Miguel Gonzalez's free throw in the final minute that won the game for Cross, now 3-0 in league play. Curtis Sumpter led the Lions with 17.
Archbishop Molloy 87, Xaverian 54. The Stanners handed the Clippers their first lost of the season courtesy of Gibson's 23-point, 17-rebound performance. Kevin Diffley added 13 and sophomore Marlon Smith scored 12. Xaverian was led by Lou Karis with 18.
Christ the King 78, Monsignor McClancy 44. The Royals were led by Robert Barrett's 22 points in the team's first league win. Peedy Nelson contributed 16.
Nazareth 58, St. John's Prep 36. The Kingsmen got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Willy Lucas in the victory over the Red Storm last week.
– Anthony Bosco contributed to this story