By Dylan Butler
It was a fairytale night for Jason Cardez.
One of six seniors honored before his last home basketball game at Christ the King, the guard from Ridgewood got the start in only his fifth game in the rotation and scored 12 points to lead the Royals to a 60-49 win over Bishop Loughlin Friday.
But there was just one thing missing for Cardez, the site of his father, Edwin Cardez, in the packed bleachers. He died of diabetes in February 1998, never once seeing his son don the Christ the King maroon and gold.
“When I saw my mom (on the court), I just had to give her a hug, give her the flowers and I started crying,” Cardez said. “I tried not to let my emotions get the best of me, and I just tried to show on the court what I could do. Everything was for my dad.”
Cardez’s performance, as well as Niko Scott’s game-high 22 points off the bench, was pivotal for Christ the King (15-9, 7-6 CHSAA AA West), which was without starting point guard Chris Martin. The junior sprained his left ankle two nights earlier.
“I didn’t expect to play him, but he can shoot,” Christ the King coach Bob Oliva said of Cardez. “He and Niko are lights out shooters. He played great for us tonight.”
Led by guards Desean Gist, Herb Allen and Shaun Bowman, who scored 10 points apiece, Bishop Loughlin (9-10, 5-8) jumped out to an early 13-3 edge and held the lead for most of the first half.
But back-to-back buckets by Cardez and a three-pointer by Scott gave the Royals their first lead of the game, 19-15, with three minutes left in the second quarter.
The duo again torched Loughlin in the third quarter, sparking an 11-2 lead as the Royals led 43-32 heading into the fourth quarter and never looked back.
“Niko Scott was like John Havlicek coming off the bench,” Oliva said. “I’ve been waiting for him to do that all year, to accept that role as the sixth man. Tonight he gave us that point guard that we needed.”
Brian Beckford had another solid game, scoring nine points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and fellow forward Akeem Gooding added eight points and five boards for the red-hot Royals.
After losing its first four league games, Christ the King has won six straight and seven of its last eight heading into a wide open citywide playoffs.
“We’re on a rise right now and we’re just going to keep rising into the playoffs,” said Scott, a junior guard from Manhattan. “Of course, the fact that we have so many different guys (who have stepped up) — that can only be positive.”
St. John’s Prep 56, LaSalle 36. Bryant Dunston registered yet another double-double for the Red Storm, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Richard Thomas added 11 points as St. John’s Prep (18-4, 14-1 CHSAA A South) locked up the division crown.
Archbishop Molloy 79, Holy Cross 64. Sundiata Gaines scored 31 and Willis Kettrell added 21 as the Stanners defeated the Knights Friday. Molloy, now 16-8 overall and 9-4 in league play, will have a bye in the first round of the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan Tournament. Cross finishes the regular season with a 13-10 overall record, 4-8 in league play.
Holy Cross 62, Xaverian 58. Kevin Ogletree and Joe Connor scored 17 points apiece, while Mike Johnson chipped in nine points and dished out 12 assists for Holy Cross.
Bishop Loughlin 83, Molloy 76. Gaines led the Stanners with 29 points, but Molloy still fell, as Loughlin got 27 from Herbie Allena and 21 from Adedokun Alandreuaju.
St. John’s Prep 67, Xavier 33. Richard Ellis led St. John’s with 15 points, followed by Dunston with 14 and Jack Fulcher with 13. Dunston, who will attend Fordham University nest year, added 17 rebounds and five blocks.
— Anthony Bosco contributed to this story
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.