Every day for a year, Malik Boothe saw the play. He can describe it in detail. He can remember exactly that it took just two dribbles to ruin his season. He still sees the ball bank off the glass, and then the memory fades into hurt.
But with less than 10 seconds left to play in yesterday’s city championship game, Christ the King’s senior point guard finally put those memories away and did what he does best. He grabbed a defensive rebound, made two free throws, locked down St. Raymond’s hot-shooting point guard Gerald Colds and helped the Royals hold on for a 57-54 win over the Ravens in the CHSAA AA title game at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym.
It was the fourth AA city title for the Royals under coach Bob Oliva, but the first since 1995. And it took away plenty of the sting of last year’s title game, when Kasheef Pratt of Rice banked in a runner at the buzzer of overtime to beat CK.
“I thought about last year, but not in a negative way, not that we lost,” said the St. John’s-bound Boothe, who finished with six points, “but in a positive way, that we had been here and we knew what to do.”
After trailing the whole game, including by 14 points early in the fourth quarter, St. Ray’s – which had reached the final by overcoming a 19-point second-half deficit against Holy Cross in Wednesday’s semi – came storming back. Colds and Darryl Bryant scored seven each in a 16-2 run that pulled them within a basket with 1:51 to go.
“It took so much energy to come back, and we had a chance, with Darryl on the free throw line,” St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua said. “We did it once against a great team. It’s hard to do twice, I guess.”
Bryant hit one of two free throws with 8.8 seconds left and Boothe grabbed the rebound. He was fouled by Colds and hit both free throws with :6.8 to go. Then he forced Colds’ hand, dogging him up the court and pushing him into putting up a long-distance three-point attempt that fell well short.
“Malik is old-school,” Oliva said of his 5-9 guard. “There is no one tougher than Malik Boothe, on and off the court. He’s the guy you want in the foxhole with you. He takes players out. He takes those 6-5 guys that lead their teams in scoring out of games. He’s just tough.”
Sean Johnson and Ryan Pearson led the Royals with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Colds, the Drexel-bound senior who scored his 1,000th point during that crucial fourth-quarter run, scored 11 for St. Ray’s, while Bryant, a junior, had 21.
“It hurts,” Antigua said, “but I think Malik is right – it helps to have been here before. And if you can learn anything from the loss, maybe it will help us next year.”
The Royals advance to the state Catholic tournament Friday. The diocesan champions Holy Cross and Rice will play at 6 p.m. and Christ the King will play Long Island champ St. Dominic’s at 7:45 p.m. at SUNY/Old Westbury.
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