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Royals Edge Rice – QNS.com

Royals Edge Rice

For a few minutes, Rice and Christ the King were primed for another classic finish.
Well, classic for Rice at least.
Leading by 15 with 4:48 remaining, the Royals saw their lead suddenly shrinking, from 13 to 11 to nine to six to three and then just two with 41.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
Rice guard Chris Fouch (team-high 21 points), a Drexel recruit, was doing his best Kobe Bryant impersonation — CK Coach Bob Oliva’s words — knocking down one step-back 3-pointer from Ridgewood after another.
“That really scared me,” Royals forward Ryan Pearson said. “I thought they were going to take the lead or we were going to overtime.”
The Royals, underwhelming up to this point with one tough overtime loss to St. Raymond’s in overtime three weeks ago and a setback in the opening round of the Bay Ball Classic in Delaware most recently, relied on one unlikely source and another constant to hold on, 65-62, last Friday evening in Middle Village.
Playing for the first time, backup point guard Marion Smith entered and calmly stroked two free throws. Pearson, the league’s leading scorer thus far, forced Kemba Walker into a traveling violation on the next possession.
When time expired, Christ the King had a momentous victory, a win over the Raiders, No. 10 in the country in USA Today.
“As a team we should be way more confident now,” senior guard Erving Walker (13 points) said. “You could feel it deep down after our loss in Delaware the team was a little down. A lot of them were not sure if we could get back with a win or not. This should put us right back in it.”
Pearson, the George Mason-bound 6-foot-5 wing, doesn’t need any jolt of confidence. Before Rice’s late run, he owned them, scoring 31 points while dominating the paint on each end of the court.
In an 11-1 CK run to end the first half, he scored nine straight points, including a highlight-reel right-handed slam-dunk. When Rice got to within five late in the third quarter, he scored four straight points. He even made free throws down the stretch and drew the key turnover on the sure-handed Walker.
“He’s scoring at rapid fire right now,” Erving Walker said. “Nobody in this league can stop him in the paint so we’re just going to give him the ball as much as possible.”
“Lights out,” Oliva said. “Right now he’s averaging close to 30 points per game. Only one player had ever done that [at Christ the King], Khalid Reeves, the greatest player to ever play here. He’s a 6-foot-5 Walter Berry.”
“I don’t think our guys really matched his intensity,” Rice Coach Mo Hicks said.
It was an inspired effort all-around by the Royals. Besides Pearson, Erving Walker broke out of his shooting slump, and sophomore center Roland Brown added 12 big points inside. The Royals also shutdown the high-flying Raiders, limiting, among others, the UConn-bound Kemba Walker to 10 points with a matchup zone.
“This puts us back on the right track,” Pearson said.

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