A key piece to the Royals' puzzle was missing during Christ the King's first game of the season against Holy Cross. It took a Ryan Pearson buzzer-beater three to send the game into overtime, where the Royals would pull out the win.
Very few dramatics were needed this time around, as Coach Bob Oliva's squad dominated the Knights on Friday evening 86-75.
A fast tempo was set early by the Middle Village School, as athletic wings Ryan Pearson and Anthony Martin provided the early offensive spark. Pearson, a 6'6" senior headed to George Mason in the fall, made several plays around the basket while Martin knocked down several outside shots to lead the Royals to a 23-14 lead by the time the first quarter buzzer sounded.
The Holy Cross offense revolved around new McDonald's All-American Sylven Landesberg, as he seemed to be the only source of point production for the Knights. Landesberg, who finished with 16 points in the first half, was the only Knight in double figures in scoring. A potential roadblock to the cruise control that the Royals were on came with 4:54 remaining in the second quarter, when the forward Pearson picked up his third foul on what was a questionable call. Coach Oliva's squad would not be deterred; however, as an Anthony Martin lay-up in transition for Christ the King with 2:45 left in the second quarter expanded the Royals lead to 39-26. The Royals were able to pull several fresh bodies off the bench, as they were able to prove that they had a deeper talent pool on their roster than Holy Cross did. Pearson and the rest of his teammates went into the locker room with a commanding 44-32 half-time lead over Holy Cross. Ryan Pearson led the way for the Royals with 16 points, while Anthony Martin, who was arguably having his best game of the season, chipped in with 11 points. The senior Landesberg was the lone offensive source for the Knights, as he put up 16 first half points while fellow senior Kayvon Roberts contributed 5 points to Holy Cross' efforts.
The Royals were able to extend the lead even further as they busted out of halftime with an 8-2 run to open the third quarter. Ryan Pearson, who his teammates call "Bird," came back into the game and continued to be aggressive and make plays despite his foul trouble. The Knights were able to hang around, and a mini-run was capped by a Landesberg lay-up with 1:42 to go in the third quarter which cut the lead back down to 12, 59-47. Christ the King would maintain that 12-point lead as they headed into the fourth and final quarter up 61-49.
The Virginia-bound Landesberg continued to do all he could to keep his Queens school in the game, however it would not be enough as Christ the King was able to trade baskets with Holy Cross to keep their lead at double digits throughout the final session. Florida-bound point guard Erving Walker was able to protect the ball against the Holy Cross full court pressure, which played a key roll in Christ the King holding onto the lead, as they were able to pull out the win 86-75. Sylven Landesberg led the Knights and all scorers with 37 points while Kayvon Roberts chipped in with 11 points for Holy Cross. Ryan Pearson, who continues to put up great performances against top teams this season, led Christ the King with 31 points and 12 rebounds. The 5'7" Walker chipped in with 18 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
Following the game, Christ the King head coach Bob Oliva pointed to his team's start as being what put the Royals on the right track. "Anthony (Martin) and Ryan (Pearson) set the tone early for us," as he added "I knew that our defense would neutralize the many things that Sylven (Landesberg) would be able to do on the floor for them (Holy Cross)."
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