Christ the King overcame 23 points and 11 rebounds from Pitt-bound Chris Taft (right) to pull away from Brooklyn's Xaverian, 66-47, in a CHSAA match-up Tuesday night in Queens, NY.
The Royals used a stellar first half from Japhet McNeil to forge a 37-20 halftime lead. McNeil scored all 12 of his points before the intermission, and threaded a couple of brilliant passes to teammates early to open up the game. McNeil, who was being eyed by Canisius head coach Mike MacDonald, knocked down consecutive three-pointers to push CK's lead to 31-15 with 2:20 to play until the half. The lead proved insurmountable, despite a quality second half effort by Taft.
Taft, who tallied 14 of his 23 points after the half, showed a blend of quickness and power that Christ the King's post players had few answers for. He danced around defenders in the low post and barged through the paint for buckets, keeping his team afloat in a second half where few of his teammates could generate much offense.
Christ the King got an inspired performance by 6'5'' senior forward Brian Williams, who pumped in 18 points and corralled 12 boards. Williams, who played this summer with the Juice Crew, also knocked down two three-pointers for the Royals.
Mitchell Beauford, who was being evaluated by Manhattan head coach Bobby Gonzalez and assistant Mike Bramucci, chipped in 11 points. Offensively, Beauford wasn't a huge factor on this night, save for a transition dunk over a defender that roused the crowd. He was very steady on the defensive end, as usual.