NYCHoops - CHSAA NY Sectional Action Intensifies in the Semis
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CHSAA NY Sectional Action Intensifies in the Semis

BRONX, NY – The level of play increased exponentially on Tuesday as the CHSAA NY Class “AA” Sectional semis got underway at Mt. Saint Michael H.S. Both games were entertaining with the final game of the evening being an absolute barnburner.

Cardinal Hayes shows depth; eliminates Iona Prep, 64 – 53

Shemani Fuller & Julien Soumaoro
Shemani Fuller & Julien Soumaoro (M. Wingate)

With 5’11” Jaylen Murray, the Cardinal’s primary offensive weapon under the weather, it took major contributions from the team’s role players to ultimately take down Iona Prep. From the perimeter the help came from 5’11” Julien Soumaoro ‘20 and over the rim by 6’7” Shemani Fuller ‘20.

Hayes took an early lead capitalizing on the Gaels poor 5 of ten shooting. Conversely the Cardinals had a balanced and high percentage attack from Soumaoro and Murray. As a result, Iona Prep found themselves down by four points with Cardinal Hayes slowly trying to dismantle

On Saturday, 5’11” Joe Toussaint ‘19 didn’t seem to be himself and Murray held it down. In this game Murray was out of sorts and with Toussaint slowly getting back to his former self, Soumaoro and Fuller had to step up to the plate.

Iona Prep only was down at the half, 27 – 21 due to the exploits of Will Rubin in the first quarter and 6’5” Aidan Hilderbrand ‘20 and 6’2” Keeshawn Jones ‘20. Hayes kept the pressure on the Gaels who found their deficit widening as 6’8” Adam Cisse began to dominate the front court with block and rebounds. Toussaint found some productivity in the fourth quarter lifting Cardinal Hayes to double-digit win

Soumaoro led the Cardinals with 21 points with Toussaint and Fuller adding 20 points and 11 points respectively. Iona Prep was paced by 6’3” Will Rubin ‘19 and Hilderbrand with 12 points apiece.

St. Raymond stuns twitter universe; beats Archbishop Stepinac, 69 – 66

Jalen Reneau, Tahron Allen & Luis Kortright
Jalen Reneau, Tahron Allen & Luis Kortright (M. Wingate)

We ran an online poll on Twitter and St. Ray’s was overwhelmingly predicted to lose to Stepinac. After all, the Crusaders have two bonifide stars in 6’0” R.J. Davis ‘20 and 6’6” A.J. Griffin ‘21 and the team is supposedly fully loaded with complimentary players according to Stepinac head coach Pat Massaroni.

While Crusaders have a team that supports their stars, St. Raymond believes that the Ravens are more of a village than a team. “We’ve been saying that all season,” said Ravens head coach Jorge Lopez. “In order for us to go far we’re gonna have to lean on each other. This team is a special group. They all love each other and play for each other."

Stepinac’s focus was on stopping the Ravens' top offensive weapon 6'6" Gary Grant '20 but containing the junior set up opportunities for others to do damage.6’2” Luis Kortright ‘20 and 6’3” Tahron Allen ‘21 jumped in and filled that "do-damage" void by pumping points in St. Ray’s offensive totals. A 20 – 5 Ravens run and solid defense kept the Crusader’s under double-digits in the first quarter and down by 14 points as the warm up quarter buzzer rang.

In the second quarter the Ravens piled on more point as they got open in transition and whipped the ball around with purpose. 6'2" Khari Taylor '19 and point guard 5'10" Jalen Reneau '19 pitched in which help extend St. Raymond’s lead to 16 points midway through the quarter

Both Davis and Griffin shot poorly in the first quarter and while Davis picked it up a little, the 6’6” imposing Griffin was parked in the three-point zone missing shots. At the half, St. Ray’s still maintained a 35 – 27 advantage.

In the third quarter, Stepinac turned up the volume as their dynamic duo got hot simultaneously scoring twos and threes while the Ravens countered with ones or twos from the charity stripe. The Crusaders utilized simple math and cut their deficit in half as the fourth quarter got underway.

After a put back by Griffin the sophomore phenom went from park to drive. Davis went next level and scored back-to-back-back-to-back to knot the game at 57 with 3:22 left in regulation. Stepinac even managed to briefly take a 1-point lead with a minute left to play but Reneau quickly regained the lead for St. Raymond.

Both teams were aggressively going after the win. Perhaps a bit to hard as Grant, Davis and Griffin were all called for charging in relatively short order as time wound down. With the Ravens in possession and 3.7 seconds left, Stepinac was forced to foul and pray for a miss. On this day, their prayers were not answered as Reneau calmly drained both free-throws to extend St. Raymond's lead and win the game.

Allen was the high scorer for St. Ray’s with 17 with Kortright adding 14 points. Davis dropped 23 points for Stepinac with Griffin adding 19 points.