Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
It’s April 23rd and open gym at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Queens is now in session. After hosting a basketball camp for kids earlier in the day, the high school kids get ready to show off their stuff in front of three college coaches from Pittsburgh, St. Peter’s and Queens College.
Just as they begin, the duo of Ryan Myers and Sterling Jones walk through the gym doors of the Father John Savage Gymnasium. When they’re on the court moments later, both players are ready to showcase the skills that helped them lead the Royals to a CHSAA city championship about a month earlier.
Myers, a 6-foot-2 junior, is a player that can score in bunches and one of the Royals’ most potent scoring threats. Jones, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, is the floor general that controls the speed of the team and also knows when and where to pass the ball to his teammates. With these two in the fold, Christ the King had a lot of success this past season.
When asked what motivates him to be successful on the court, Myers replied, “Being able to go to school for free and seeing a smile on my mom’s face.”
Jones added, “Just playing with my friends and doing it for my family.”
Both players hail from Brooklyn, although Jones has also spent time in Queens. On the court, both have that textbook toughness that all Brooklynites have. When asked about being from the borough, Myers added, “It means everything to me being from Brooklyn, and just putting on for my borough.”
When asked the same question, Jones replied, “It’s hard when you know there’s a lot of basketball players and you know you’ve got to work harder than everybody else to be good at what you do.”
On the style of basketball in Brooklyn, Myers replied, “Gritty, hard-nosed, out-the-mud type of basketball. We’re real competitive and we just want to take your soul away.”
It’s those qualities that have made both players a valued asset for Christ the King on the court. When asked about playing for such a legendary program, these were the answers that both gave:
Myers: “It means a lot to me playing for Christ the King, and you know, like most players leave their city and go to prep school. It means a lot to me playing for Christ the King and actually win a championship playing in the Catholic League, and just be in the history books for Christ the King High School.”
Jones: “It’s absolutely good, Arbs (Joe Arbitello, Christ the King head coach) tells us every day how this program is, I came in as a sophomore, won a city chip, I want to come back next year and do the same thing.”
This past season, Myers was the second-leading scorer on the team, averaging 16.3 points per game and Jones averaged 9.1 points per game for the Royals, who after a rough start to the season, rebounded and finished 19-10, and defeated Archbishop Stepinac in the CHSAA “AA” championship game in March.
When asked about winning the city championship, the first for Christ the King since 2015, these were their responses:
Myers: “I mean, it just felt like, the best moment of my life, honestly, and I’m just looking forward to winning it again. It’s hard to win one championship, but it’s even harder to be a two-time champ.”
Jones: “Oh, that was a dream come true. My sophomore year, first year playing varsity, I could do what [many] people wanted to do, and I did it.”
During the championship game, which was a highly-contested matchup between the then-defending champion Crusaders, it looked like Jones was rattled at times. But Myers, having been on the varsity for a longer period of time, spoke to his teammate and gave him words of encouragement. After that, the rest was history.
“Oh, it was tough, we was down like 15 at half,” said Jones, “We was staying strong, we came back in the second half, and we went away with the W, because we was being leaders.”
When asked the same question, Myers replied, “Win. During the game, it was just keep fighting, because we was losing during the game, and R.J. [Davis] had like 20 in the first half [for Stepinac], so we just decided to lock in on defense, and did all that we could to get the win.”
Now that the high school season is over, both players on the AAU circuit, looking for the opportunities to gain exposure with their respective sneaker-circuit programs. Myers plays on the 17-and-under New Heights squad on the Under Armour Association circuit and Jones plays on the 16-and-under New York Rens squad on the Nike E16 circuit.
When asked about playing for New Heights, Myers replied, “It also means a lot to me playing for New Heights, a program I’ve been playing with since I was in the fifth grade. They’ve done a lot for me, they take care of me, so I respect everybody at the New Heights program.”
When asked about playing for the Rens, whom he led to the prestigious Nike Peach Jam championship game last summer on the 15-and-under level, Jones replied, “It’s been absolutely god. Eighth-grade year, I won a [MADE Hoops] chip, ninth-grade year, I lost in the [Peach Jam] finals, but this year, we’ll be back and better. It feels good [playing with the Rens], we just gotta come out and get a Peach Jam chip.”
On their respective strengths and weaknesses, both players shared their thoughts:
Myers: “Definitely, strengths is definitely shooting the ball, creating off the dribble, I’ve got to work on being more of a point guard and playmaker, and a leader, and I can be a more consistent defender.”
Jones: “My strengths is passing the ball, playing defense. I think I need to work more on my jumpshot and being a leader.”
As far as their recruitment, both players have schools paying attention to them. Jones has said he has heard from schools such as Indiana, St. John’s and Bryant and hopes to receive attention and offers from more schools very soon. Myers currently holds offers from schools such as UC-Riverside, Sacred Heart and Bryant and hopes to expand on those offers during the NCAA July Live Period.
After leading the Royals to a championship this past season, all that there is left for the duo to do is to help defend their championship. With the return of junior guard Quaran McPherson, the Royals’ leading scorer who suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, it will be a more potent offensive attack.
But for right now, the duo of Ryan Myers and Sterling Jones will do. One will be an elder statesman and the other will be an underclassman that plans to also be a leader. Next season, they will be back at the helm, stronger and better than ever.