MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY - "Coach [Joe Arbitello] said that every team gets a good scare, great wins and a bad loss," said Adonis Delarosa who scored 13 points, 8 rebounds including the winning basket in overtime to seal the deal for the Christ the King Royals (12 - 1) who edged a young St. Raymond team (10 - 4), 94-92 on Friday. "This game today was a good scare," he said.
Riding the wave of an upset over Cardinal Hayes earlier in the week, a confident St. Raymond came into the Royals gymnasium believing anything was possible; even an upset win over the NYCHoops.net current #1 team, Christ the King.
With Delarosa still gimpy from a previous ankle injury and Jon Severe coming off one of his worst offense shooting versus Holy Cross, it appeared to be an opportune moment to play and slay them. Delarosa's counterpart, 6'9" Luis Santos (14 points) gave St. Ray's an early lead but Severe along with Jordan Fuchs (18 points and 8 rebounds) would help to tie the game at 14 to begin the second quarter. Both teams used the warm-up quarter to feel each other out.
Combo guard Tory Ferguson (26 points)was giving Severe fits defensively as he stuck to the prolific shooting guard like glue and picked his pocket on a few occasions. Severe still managed to get off 35 points and 5 assists but said he was pleading with his teammate to use Ferguson defensive assignment to their advantage. "I told them to use me as a screen because he's not going to leave me on defense," he said. Early on his pleads fell on deaf ears but players like Andre Walker eventually got the memo and began to get open looks as a result.
With 5:26 remaining in the first half, the Ravens had amassed a 6 point lead but Royals PG Malik Harmon (17 points, 5 rebounds & 6 assists) spearheaded a 15-7 run that put Christ the King in the driver's seat by two. The lead swayed back and forth as Ferguson pilfered whichever Royal was bringing the ball up court. Fuchs would put his perimeter shot and dunking ability on display as Royals escaped into the halftime locker room clinching onto a 40-39 lead.
Only down by one to a team at the top of the food chain should actually a morale booster but the Royals made sure to squash that concept at the onset of the third quarter. They pulled ahead by 8 points before Jaquan McKennon (21 points) could respond offensively for the Ravens. With 2:22 minutes left until the start of the final quarter, CTK was ahead by 13 points.
Royals were ahead by 11 point as the fourth quarter began but the Ravens backcourt was about to slowly changing that equation. St. Ray's two headed monster of Ferguson and McKennon would cut Christ the Kings lead to 4 points with 5:42 remaining. The Royals would get their lead back up to 8 as Severe and Delarosa scored
The Ravens momentum began to swell and with 2:53 back to back 3-ball by Shawn Jones (16 points) would tie the game and then give St. Ray's a 3-point edge. The Royals picked up their defensive intensity and forced the Ravens in to 5-second violations on the inbound and as the clock wound down, Severe would take the game into overtime knotted at 87.
McKennon put the Ravens up early. That plus 1 for three foul shooting by Delarosa in the overtime and there was the scent of upset in the air. Delarosa's one made free-throw pulled the Royals to within. On a subsequent possession after a Ray's turnover, Severe drew a foul and went 2 for 2 which put the Royals ahead by a point.
26.8 remained when Santo drew a foul but the big man would only go 1 of 2 from the line and once again the score was tied but with 2.3 tick left on the clock Delarosa would score what would be the winning bucket to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. "Andre' Walker, our point guard. He believed in me to make that shot. That's why he made the pass," said Delarosa after the game.
"He missed three free throws down the stretch and still hit that shot," said Arbitello. That show he has mental toughness."
Arbitello hand nothing but admiration for St. Ray's saying, "Those guys were tough and they did not go away." Not particularly pleased with how his guys played Arbitello added, "We had no business winning the game. We just showed heart down the stretch."