MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY -Leroy "Truck" Fludd came into the Royals gym on Saturday with two things on his mind. To prove that the NYCHoops.net #5 ranked Boys & Girls Kangaroos (5-0) were the better team and that he was the better player. When the dust settled, the senior power forward believes that their 64-59 win over #2 ranked Christ the King (1-1) was a mission accomplished.
"I had to prove that I was the number one player in the city with the W," said Fludd. His comment was squarely aimed at UConn commit Omar Calhoun.
Against the two-time defending Catholic School champions, Fludd scored a game high 23 points and took over the game at all the key moments. "I had to show my all around game on offense and defense," he said.
Christ the King came out ahead early on in the contest as their zone bothered the Kangaroos, except for Bryce Jones (6 points) who dropped two treys over top of it. Up by two points to start the second quarter, it appeared as if CK was going to repeat their winning opening season performance against Thomas Jefferson. This however would be a different day and a different team.
"We're a pressure team. We like to play up-tempo," said Boys & Girls head coach Ruth Lovelace. While she preached help side defense she also told her players to treat Calhoun just like any other player. "Don't be doubling Calhoun," she said.
The Roos said they scouted the Royals and looked to exploit their weaknesses in the frontcourt while forcing Calhoun (18 points) and Isaiah Lewis (12 points) into uncomfortable positions. "When Calhoun goes right, he's going to shoot and when he goes left he's looking to drive," said Kangaroos assistant coach Elmer Anderson. "Lewis likes to go left. When he goes the other way, he just throws it up."
One of Tyliek Kimbrough's eight assists with 7:12 left until the half, led to a one handed dunk in transition by Fludd giving Boys & Girls a 20-18 lead. Another bucket by 6'7" junior Shakur Corey Pinder (6 points) capped off an 8-0 run that left the Royals down by four with 5:42 until the intermission.
Calhoun would break free to tie the game at 22. Jordan Fuchs (13 points) battled on the boards to regain the lead for the home team but each time, perimeter shots from Courtney Solomon (5 points) would knot the game.
The tempo picked up and baskets by Lewis and Jon Severe (12 points) put CK in position to lead at the half but freethrows by Fludd and Joel Angus (8 points) along with a shot at the buzzer by Nick Jackson (8 points & 8 rebounds) gave the Roos a 34-33 advantage at the break.
The halftime score would be the closet, Christ the King would ever get to Boys & Girls as Fludd continued to show his offensive versatility, hitting baskets from the arc as well as slamming them home with authority. Additional offense down the stretch by Wes Myers (6 points) would extend Boys & Girls lead to 53-45 to start the fourth quarter.
While the Royals remained in attack mode, bad shots, missed opportunities at the charity stripe and the Kangaroos dominance on the offensive glass, led by Angus's 10 rebounds, left CK in quick sand for the entire fourth quarter.
"This was a good look for Leroy," said Coach Lovelace. "He's had the most improved summer out of any kid in the city and without a doubt he's the best player in the PSAL. It shouldn't just be Calhoun's name mentioned as player of the year," she said.
Royals head coach Joe Arbitello was visibly disappointed after the game. "Tough loss," he said. "You can't shoot 39% and win games. We need to put the ball in the basket. You can't play against teams like this and miss easy lay-ups."
When asked if Christ the King lost more than Boys & Girls won, Arbitello responded, "I don't know. It's just a bunch of things." Dealing with the Royals first loss of the season, Coach Arbitello walked away and exclaimed, "Unbelievable."
BONUS COVERAGE: In a story that NYCHoops.net broke first on December 7th in its premium message board, the Roos were close to getting Rashad Andrews from St. Anthony (NJ). THe undefeated squad got some good news. It's now official. The athletic 6'4" small forward has transferred to Boys & Girls HS and is expected to start class on Monday. A stronger school gets even stronger.