With its low ceiling and dark interior, the King gym was all atmosphere and menace, more suggestive of a film noir set than a sports arena.
Cliff Alexander turned it into another private showcase of his special talent.
The Curie 6-9 star senior recorded 35 points and added 15 rebounds, six blocked shots and four steals as the visiting No. 6 Condors combined his dominant inside play with strong perimeter shooting in a 82-56 rout of King on Tuesday.
Afterwards, Alexander refused to talk with reporters. The Kansas recruit is reportedly upset about media reports detailing his two technical fouls in the Condors’ opening game against St. Rita and his still to be served one-game suspension.
Behind athletic 6-5 junior Jesse Young, who scored six of his 17 points in the opening frame, the Jaguars actually led most of the first quarter before a three-pointer by Curie senior guard Joseph Stamps helped Curie recover for a 15-12 lead.
King guard Jabari Antwine drilled a three-pointer on the opening possession of the second quarter for the game’s final tie.
Then Alexander took charge. He scored 13 points in the second quarter, including seven during a game-altering 12-2 Condors’ run. Typical of Alexander, he played with great bounce and flair, throwing down consecutive monster dunks and a short jumper in the lane.
Then Curie junior sharpshooter Joshua Stamps (15 points) took advantage of the space accorded him because of Alexander to nail two three-pointers. By the time King had a chance to catch its breath, Curie was up 38-21 at the break.
Alexander scored 19 points for Curie (5-0, 3-0 Red-Central) in the first half.
He punctuated the second quarter performance with a thundering dunk, trailing Devin Gage on a fast break. His inside power and the outside shooting of the Stamps’ brothers enabled Curie to shoot 10-of-14 from the field in the second quarter.
“In the first quarter, I wasn’t really looking to score, just pass the ball and then because teams have to put some much effort on Cliff on the inside, it opens it up for me to get wide open looks,” Joshua Stamps said.
Curie coach Mike Oliver said this edition is starting to play at an ideal level.
“We expected this,” Oliver said. “This is a team with seven seniors, that have been playing together a long time and know how to play.
“King’s a good team, but with us, the way we’re playing, having good guards and probably the best player in the state, you really do have to pick your poison when you play us.”
Alexander patrolled the lanes, using his wingspan to not only block shots but also force the King players to repeatedly alter shots or avoid the lane altogether. King (7-3, 2-1) deployed an aggressive full court press in an effort to take the Condors out of their game, but it mostly resulted with Alexander throwing down alley oop dunks.
By the time Alexander went to the bench with five minutes to play, Curie had its largest lead, 71-37.
Antwine hit five three-pointers in the fourth quarter to score a team-best 18 points for the Jaguars.