MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY - Omar Calhoun knew he only had one point to go to eclipse Christ the King High School's all-time scoring record.
That probably explains why he appeared to be trying a bit too hard.
"[Breaking the scoring record] has been on my mind a lot lately, people have been talking about it," said the UCONN-bound senior guard, who came into Friday night's game against the Burke Catholic Eagles with 1,672 career points. "The defense was doubling me because no team wants to be the one that I [break the record] against."
With 2:40 left in the first quarter, Calhoun's put back earned him his first points of the game and the scoring record that was previously held by current CTK Assistant Coach, Khalid Reeves. The game was paused so the achievement could be celebrated, but CTK was in a 15-9 hole - celebrations don't last long when there's work to do. Calhoun went on to pour in 32 points and spearhead a CTK comeback that earned them a 76-69 victory to take into the CHSAA playoffs.
"After that [ceremony], I just wanted to get the win," said Calhoun, who reached his milestone on senior night. Senior night also meant that as a show of respect, CTK's underclassmen starters didn't get in on the action until the second quarter. That gave Burke Catholic the opportunity to gain early momentum and jump out to a 22-11 lead after about nine minutes. The Eagles came out sniffing blood, as the senior guard tandem of Lafayette-bound Zach Rufer and prolific scorer, Billy Garno, piled on the points from different spots on the floor. But once the dust from the Calhoun extravaganza settled, CTK was back to business.
"I knew the game would be like this and I told my guys that," said CTK Head Coach, Joe Arbitello. "[Burke Catholic] are a well-coached team and last year they did the same thing when they played us. They were able to hang for a half, then we jumped on them."
Déjà vu struck for both teams. Burke began to miss chip shots, allowing the newly-inserted starting line-up to inch the Royals back into the game. An assist from Isaiah Lewis (10 points) allowed Jordan Fuchs to ignite a run, and once Calhoun began to score more fluently, the Royals were off and running. Jon Severe (12 points) posterized an unfortunate BC defender who didn't get out of the way fast enough and a 15-3 CTK run was capped by Lewis converting off a turnover to give them their first lead of the game, 26-25. The Eagles hung around, but once Calhoun began to feel it, they couldn't climb out of a hole that was growing progressively larger.
"Omar wasn't going to allow what happened last year to happen again," Coach Arbitelllo said of Burke Catholic's early momentum. Calhoun poured in 13 points in the third quarter and the Royals pressure stymied the Eagles for much of the second half.
"We saw [Burke Catholic] could play, so we tried to play our style of game on them and push the tempo," said Calhoun. "We wanted to press them more in the second half."
Burke did manage to pop up late behind valiant efforts from Stan Buzek (14 points) and Benny Brown (8 points). Garno (18 points) drained a three to make it a six point game and the Eagles managed to cut it to five, 62-57, but Calhoun struck again with a three ball at the two minute mark to deflate BC for good. In the double bonus, Calhoun and Severe made the most of their trips to the stripe and got the Royals some separation on the scoreboard. With all due respect to Calhoun, Rufer was equally impressive throughout the game - he torched the Royals for 27 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter. But the upstate team was in too deep a deficit and Calhoun's refusal to allow a loss to spoil his shine was stronger than what Burke Catholic could muster for comeback ammo.
"Omar is one of the most decorated players in this school's history," said Coach Arbitello after the game. "He's won the most of any player here and he's got all the accolades to prove it."
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