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January 12, 2008

CTK Romps Molloy in Borough Battle

Home court advantage wasn't enough of an edge for Archbishop Molloy as they were easily handled by Christ the King on Friday evening by a score of 96-61.

Christ the King played with a new face in their starting lineup, as backup guard Marion Smith stepped in for Sean Johnson, who was ill.

Both Queens, NY teams went back and forth early as Molloy played used a 1-3-1 zone to try and throw off Florida-bound point guard Erving Walker and the rest of the Royals. However, it was the always-reliable Ryan Pearson who knocked down a few midrange jumpers to carry the offensive load early for the Middle Village school. Offensively for Molloy, it was often a one-man show, as combo-guard Russ Smith dominated the ball for most of their possessions. Big-man Ashton Pankey was able to convert on some good looks down low, which helped bolster an inside-outside for the Stanners. However, Marion Smith's three pointer at the first quarter gave coach Bob Oliva's squad a 22-18 lead heading into the second session.

Christ the King was able to clamp down defensively in the second quarter, forcing Russ Smith and his backcourt mates into off balance outside shots, which led to transition buckets for the Royals. The temporary replacement in the starting lineup put forth a solid defensive effort against Russ Smith, who uses his quickness and agility to free himself for open jump shots and lay-ups off the dribble. With just over 3 minutes to go in the first half and the shot clock at one, Erving Walker hoisted a 35-footer, which hit nothing but net to give the Royals a 39-21 lead and complete control of the game.

Molloy and legendary head coach Jack Curran went into the locker-room down 44-29 at the half. Pearson, who will be playing for Molloy graduate Jim Larranaga at George Mason next season, led all scorers in the first half with 17 points, while Walker contributed 9 and Marion Smith chipping in with 8. Archbishop Molloy was led by the sophomore forward Pankey with 9 points while Russ Smith contributed 8 for the Stanners.

Much of the second half mirrored the first half, as Christ the King continued to put forth a solid defensive effort forcing Molloy into bad shots and limiting Pankey's touches near the basket. Molloy began switching defenses but found no success, as Christ the King was hot from the outside for much of the second half.

Heading into the final quarter, with the Royals leading 68-45, coach Bob Oliva decided it was time for much of his bench to see their first extended playing time since their season opener. The Christ the King sideline, complete with their entire freshmen and junior varsity team, began going wild as bench player after bench player came in and began knocking down threes.

Christ the King was led by Ryan Pearson, who recorded yet another double-double by scoring 25 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Russ Smith led the way for Molloy with 23 points while Pankey chipped in with 18 points.

However, it was Marion Smith that became a big topic of discussion for Christ the King's Oliva after the game. "He was in the other night for 32 seconds to shoot free throws (in a win against Rice) and he started today. I thought he was terrific," said Oliva. "Coach always tells me to be ready at any time. At the end of the Rice game I wasn't surprised…and today, when he (coach Oliva) called on me, I had to fill the role," said the junior Smith.

Christ the King next hits the road to play a game in Virginia on Saturday afternoon, while Molloy will take on Xaverian of Brooklyn on Tuesday.

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