Royals hold on for first victory of the new year

Christ the King freshman forward Natalija Marshall goes up for the shot in the Royals’ victory over league rival Archbishop Molloy on Thursday night.
CNG/Laura Amato
By Laura Amato

Klarke Sconiers practiced for this moment.

It paid off.

The Christ the King sophomore helped wrap up the Royals’ 60-54 victory over Archbishop Molloy in a BQCHSAA tilt Thursday night.

Sconiers went a perfect 4-for-4 from the line in the final 21 seconds of play to secure the win.

“They say, you know, posts don’t usually make a lot of their free throws, but I’ve been doing well in practice,” said Sconiers, who finished with 17 points. “I really wanted the ball in my hands to try and get this for us.”

Christ the King (4-2, 4-0) got off to a shaky start, despite controlling the tempo and sinking some early shots out of the post. The Royals held an 18-11 advantage after the first quarter, but a handful of whistles put the squad in foul trouble from the start.

“Molloy had two field goals in the first quarter and 11 points,” Royals coach Bob Mackey said. “So you figure they have seven points from the foul line and you’re not going to beat teams if you give them that many points from the free throw line.”

That changed in the second quarter.

The Royals settled into their defensive scheme and, more importantly, their post players started to settle into their position on the block.

Sconiers and 6-foot-4 freshman Natalija Marshall led the charge – Marshall scored six of her 10 points in the second quarter – grabbing rebounds and notching second-chance points. Christ the King didn’t allow a field goal in the final five minutes of the half and went into the break with a comfortable 33-19 lead.

“We work on rebounds a lot because both me and Natalija, being our size, it’s major,” said Sconiers, who is 6-foot-2. “It’s nice, easy points on the board and being able to do that is going to help us.”

Molloy, however, was not going to go down without a fight. The Stanners came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter, clawing back to make it a four-point game after a Margarita Kilpatrick bucket with 2:13 left in the period.

The Royals struggled to stick to the game plan as Molloy (2-2) continued to hit shots, working the ball around with ease and finding passing lanes in the paint.

“We’re young and we’re still making a lot of young mistakes,” Mackey said. “I think we let them get a couple of easy, open looks. And a team like Molloy isn’t going to miss those. That’s a veteran team that’s done really well.”

Jenna Mastellone and Taylor Kurs sparked the Stanners down the stretch, combining for 14 points in the final eight minutes. Molloy made it a two-point game with 54 seconds left – after Christ the King recorded back-to-back turnovers – but the Stanners’ momentum came to halt after a backcourt violation was called on the ensuing inbound.

Sconiers padded the lead with her four late-game free throws and by the final whistle, the sophomore had converetd 11-of-12 attempts from the line.

It’s a major league victory for the Royals in their first game of 2017 and a confidence boost for a young squad that’s determined to prove some people wrong come playoff time.

A lot of people have been doubting us and saying we’re really young, but I think we have a lot of talent,” Sconiers said. “It’s crazy because I know by the end of the year, the amount of experience we have over the year is going to make us a pretty hard team to beat.”

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