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Edwards, CK too strong for St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist High School junior #10

St. John the Baptist High School junior #10 Lindsey Minor, right, guards Christ the King sophomore #13 Lauren Nuss in the second half of a NYS CHSAA Class AA girls basketball quarterfinal. (March 12, 2010) Photo Credit: Freelance/Photo by James A. Escher

It's one thing to know what Christ the King's Ariel Edwards can do with a basketball, and it's another thing entirely to watch it in action.

St. John the Baptist learned that well enough Friday. Edwards scored 24 points and shot 80 percent to lead top-seeded Christ the King over the Cougars, 71-48, in the CHSAA Class AA quarterfinals at Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn. Along the way, she proved to be the entire package: strength, accuracy, quickness and defensive prowess.

"We thought we could match up with Edwards," St. John coach Ted Oberg said. "She's quick . . . She's got what it takes to be a very good college player."

The Penn State-bound senior also had a team-leading 11 rebounds. And while the Royals (22-5) took a step closer to a Federation coronation, the Cougars (16-11) struggled to maintain defensive pressure and contain Edwards and fellow senior Bria Smith.

"Our transitions definitely needed work," said Anastasia Williams, who led all St. John scorers with 13 points. "We couldn't get the ball back on defense, we didn't box out when we needed to and Ariel kept getting those boards."

Indeed, St. John looked sluggish early in the contest. The Cougars kept it close for the first three minutes, leading 6-5, before Christ the King took off on a 13-0 run. Edwards had nine points in the stretch. The Royals led 38-19 at the half.

Despite the end to its season, St. John remained optimistic. The team returns all but one of its starters, senior Christine Bosco.

Bosco, a small but potent shooter, is "one of the best players I've ever coached," Oberg said. Her absence will leave a gap, but it's one that Williams is ready to fill.

"I'm going to try to be a leader," she said. "I'm going to find my leadership role on this team."

Meanwhile, Christ the King - known for its string of Federation championships starting in the late 1980s - will look to reclaim previous glory, coach Bob Mackey said.

CK plays Staten Island's St. Peter's at 5 p.m. Saturday at Christ the King in the semifinals.

"I just hate waiting," said Mackey, a sentiment that his team shares. "This is a good time of year."

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