By Anthony Bosco
It did not have quite the significance of last year’s CHSAA city championships game between the two schools but the result was pretty much the same.
St. Raymond’s got off to a fast start and never looked back, cruising most of the way to a 60-56 win over Christ the King Friday night at St. Francis Prep in the CHSAA quarterfinals.
The loss by the Royals eliminated the last remaining Queens school from the ‘AA’ playoffs, with Molloy losing at the buzzer to Rice and St. Francis Prep falling to Xaverian a day earlier.
“It was important for us to come out ready to play,” said St. Ray’s coach Oliver Antigua. “It’s playoff time. If you come out with a slow start it could be your downfall.”
Antigua knows. A year ago, after defeating CK for the city crown, the Ravens had to face their Queens rivals a week later in the CHSAA state title game. In that contest the rolls were reversed, with CK storming out to a big lead early and going on to the easy win.
But not this time.
Led by Brian Laing (19 points) and Wesley Wicks (12 points), the Ravens took control of the game from the outset, opening with an 11-2 run that the Royals were never able to overcome.
“I didn’t want my last game to end with a loss,” Laing said afterward.
CK did manage to wake up later in the first quarter, closing on a 7-4 run that pulled the club within six, 15-9, heading into the second quarter.
Junior point guard Chris Martin got the team within three after nailing a three-pointer 36 seconds into the second, but that was as close as the Royals would get the rest of the day. St. Raymond’s controlled the paint and hit enough long-range shots to keep the Royals’ defense honest, extending the lead to 12 by halftime — thanks to a three-pointer by Wicks in the final seconds.
“I was very pleased with how we came out,” Antigua said. “We’re focused on playing the way we’re capable of playing.”
Several times in the third quarter St. Ray’s seemed poised to make the game a blowout, going up by as many as 16 on a basket by Gavin Grant (11 points) at the 1:58 mark. But CK was determined not to go quietly.
In his last game with the Royals, senior Brian Beckford scored the last six points of the third quarter to make it a 10-point game, 47-37, heading into the fourth.
But try as they might, the Royals could not get any closer until the final minute when, with both benches pretty much cleared, seniors Robert Flores and Jason Cardez hit three-pointers and junior Adam Walker scored four to pull within four. And despite the Ravens’ missing nine of their last 11 free-throw attempts, CK could not close the gap entirely.
“That just shows the first-class program they have there,” Antigua said of Christ the King.
Martin led all CK scorers with 13, followed by Walker, Beckford and Niko Scott with 10 apiece.
Rice 68, Archbishop Molloy 67. Center Curtis Kelly’s putback as time expired ended the frantic final few seconds of this hard-fought CHSAA quarterfinal matchup, giving Rice the one-point win. Molloy trailed by 15 early and by 11 at the break but battled back to hold a four-point lead in the final minute before Rice rallied late. Russell Robinson led the Raiders with 27, while Sundiata Gaines paced Molloy with 22.
Xaverian 58, St. Francis Prep 50. The St. Francis Prep Terriers watched a 30-19 lead disappear as the Clippers, led by Saiquon Stone, ran away with the win in the fourth quarter of this CHSAA quarterfinal. Stone had 17 for Xaverian, while Bryan Geffen led the Terriers with 18.
St. John’s Prep 52, Fordham Prep 40. The St. John’s Red Storm got 14 from Richard Thomas and 13 from Bryant Dunston to advance past the Fordham Prep Rams to the CHSAA ‘A’ semifinals. Brian Denneny paced Fordham with 13.
Monsignor Scanlan 55, Cathedral Prep 46. The season for the defending CHSAA Class C state champions came to an end this past week, as the Crusaders fell to Scanlan in the ‘B’ semis. James Tyndal scored 15 for the winners.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.