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Curie nearly got caught looking ahead to their nationally televised game against USA Today's top-ranked Mountverde (Md.) at the Hoops Hall of Fame Classic in Boston on Monday. The No. 2 Condors had to scrap to a 58-47 victory on Thursday against visiting King.
"I told them just what I thought about their effort," Curie coach Mike Oliver said. "All this cool play and thinking all I have to do is show up kind of attitude has got to go. If not, then some of them can hit the door.''
Oliver said his long time assistant coach, Larry Wallace, said he sensed that the team was not ready to play. "He told me before the game that we were going to be in trouble," he said.
Cliff Alexander registered a triple-double registered with 30 points, 26 rebounds and 14 blocks as King refused to go away quietly. The Condors (15-1, 7-0 Red-Central) led by nine points at halftime, but had the lead trimmed to 41-38 by the end of the third quarter after being outscored by King 14-8 in the period.
The Jaguars (12-6, 5-2) kept fighting and cut the lead to 45-44 with 4:32 remaining in the game on baskets by Jesse Young and Jabari Antwone. The next four minutes Alexander showed why he considered one of the best high school prospects in the country. He compiled three dunks, five blocks, two free throws and eight rebounds as the Condors closed out the game on 12-3 run.
"They (King) came to play and played with a lot of confidence," Alexander said. "Coach always talks about letting teams think they can play with you is very dangerous. This is a good lesson for us if we want to finish strong and reach our goal."
Oliver said King played with a lot of heart. "Give them credit," he said. "They didn't come in here and concede a victory. They made us earn it."
King coach Culumber Ball said he was proud of his team's effort. "They are a very good team with an exceptional player, but as I told my players, 'A team that plays hard and listens can sometimes beat a team with more talent,'" Ballsaid. "Cliff was the difference maker. He saved the day for them today."
Antwone had a team-high 12 points and Delon Statan finished with 11.