Rice guaranteed on Tuesday that it would have at least one more face-off with rival St. Raymond by taking care of St. Peter's in the second semifinal of the New York Diocese tournament, 73-59.
The NYCHoops #2 Raiders eventually grounded the upstart Eagles in the Bronx to advance to Saturday's final, which St. Ray's reached earlier with a win over All Hallows.
St. Peter's, brimming with confidence off of a Staten Island borough championship, very much took it to Rice early; countering every punch the Raiders threw. The Eagles took the lead six different times during a back-and-forth first quarter, and were backed by 11 points of dazzling shooting from forward Ryan Woods. Rice led just 23-22 after one.
Defense then made an unannounced appearance. After totaling 45 points in the first quarter, the two teams would combine for just 24 in the second.
Rice forged ahead by four points at 28-24, but a three-pointer by guard Rickey Dunning brought St. Peter's within one at the 3:47 mark.
It was then that Rice struck the first major blow in the surprisingly even contest. Sharpshooter guard Chris Fouch hit a long two, a three and later another three to lead Rice on a 12-2 run that gave the Raiders a 40-29 lead at the break.
The Eagles cut the lead to nine on a pair of Dunning free throws early in the third, but Rice then set off on another run, this time thanks to forward Dorvell Carter, and this time to put St. Peter's away.
The 6'7" Carter took one strong to the basket off an assist from Fouch, then hit a pair of threes to put Rice ahead 48-31 with 6:20 left in the third. Guard Durand Scott added a driving lay-up to put Rice up by 19, and St. Peter's never got closer than 14 points down from then on.
Guard Kemba Walker finished with 20 points to lead the Raiders, while Fouch and Carter chipped in with 18 apiece. Woods, who cooled down after the first quarter, tallied 22 points, while center O.D. Anoseke put up 19 for the Eagles.
Rice will take on NYC Hoops #3 St. Raymond on Saturday in the New York Diocese final. The Raiders took the first two meetings of the year between the teams, winning 81-74 in overtime at the Ravens' gym, and then triumphing 87-80 in a match-up at Fordham University.