St. Raymond may have wanted Rice for dinner but as a cannibal once said, Beware of who's for desert.
Saturday's NY Archdiocesan Tournament championship was over almost before it began as the Rice Raiders systematically served up the St. Raymond Ravens, 93-64.
"They don't really have too many ball-handlers," said Melvin Johnson. "We knew if we got the ball out of (point guard) Shane Rector's hands, the ball wouldn't be taken care of as well. Once we got the ball out of his hands, it was a no touch scheme. Deny him completely because he's their leader," he said.
In a game where the Ravens never led, Rice went on a 15-4 run in the first quarter to lead 25-16 going into the second quarter.
"They had a great first half," said Ravens head coach Oliver Antigua. "They shot 7 for 10 from three and we had 15 turnovers. [Nkereuwem] Okoro had four [turnovers] on the inbound pass."
Early in the second quarter, Daniel Dingle tried to spark his Ravens squad but turnovers plagued the Bronx team as conversion baskets by Emmanuel Andujar, Jermaine Sanders and Johnson kept Rice out in front 54-30 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Raiders continued to pressure the Raven guards as Coach Antigua rotated between using Rector, Myron Hickman, Lawrence Graves and Akil Andrews at the point as things began to unravel. The Raiders, however, stuck to the head Coach Dwayne Mitchell's plan. "[Coach Mitchell] calls it Raider ball. Playing hard with a lot of energy, " said Johnson.
Rice received sustained interior play from Joshua Gomez and Richard Council who dunked the ball at the end of the third quarter to up the Raiders' lead to 76-49.
Unable to dig out of a twenty-seven point hole, the Ravens threw out the white flag with about 2 minute left to play. "They shot uncharacteristically really well," said Coach Antigua. "We are who we are; we score in the sixties. We're not going to beat anybody scoring in the nineties. We didn't defend enough. It was kind of the perfect storm [for them]," he said.
As opposed to being a perfect storm, Coach Mitchell attributes the win to something more fundamental. "The Rice tradition finally kicked in," said Mitchell, who said that his team had been playing inconsistently as of late. Mitchell said that he expects his team to pressure the ball and play with intensity. Wanting to build on this win as his team heads into the Intersectionals and beyond, Coach Mitchell told his team, "Be tired after Albany."
The Raiders were paced by Sanders with 17 points while Johnson contributed 15 points and Gomez added 14 points. Okoro led St. Ray's with a game high 21 points followed by Dingle with 19 points. Rector was held to 2 points with Graves held to zero.
With the seedings now set, the first round of CHSAA Intersectionals begins on Sunday (2/27) at Holy Cross HS with St. Francis playing All Hallows at 2pm and Molloy playing St. Peter at 3:45pm. The #1 NY seeded Rice Raiders will play Bishop Loughlin in the quarterfinals while the #2 NY seeded St. Raymond Ravens playing Xaverian in the quarters. Both Quarterfinal games will be played on Thursday & Friday (3/3 - 3/4) at Christ the King HS.
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