BRIARWOOD, NY - Going on the road in the CHSAA is never easy, and on Friday night, unranked St. Ray's looked as if they were going to pull out a big road win, that was until Gabe Kilpatrick hit a tough contested three to send the game into overtime.
With momentum squarely on NYCHoops.net #10 ranked Molloy's side, no one would have been shocked to see the Stanners take home the W, but it was the gritty Ravens who didn't let the game tying shot get them down as they stayed steady and composed to take home a hard fought 81-79 overtime win.
Luis Santos was borderline unstoppable early on, throwing home a couple massive dunks, and grabbing 7 first half rebounds. His presence against a smaller Molloy front line was imposing as the Stanners had to do much of their damage from the perimeter.
They were largely successful in doing just that though as the Stanners knocked down 5 first half three's including three from guard Chaz Watler. With C.J. Davis struggling to find his rhythm against the stingy defense that was being applied on him, others needed to step up, and with Watler and Kilpatrick showing impressive range in the first half, the Stanners were able to counter the size disadvantage they had and take a 30-28 lead at the half.
Things turned around in the 3rd quarter for St. Raymond as Santos was given more touches scoring 9 points in the quarter, showing an impressive array of post moves in the process. Jaquan McKennon was doing a great job finding Santos in the post and feeding him the ball in proper spots. That plus the solid shooting of Tory Ferguson helped the Ravens grab the edge 51-45 heading to the 4th.
After a three from Ferguson and a beautiful pass from Kayvon Williams to Santos for an easy deuce, the St. Ray's lead had stretched to 11 with 6:52 to go in the game. It was time for Molloy to show the character and heart that coach Jack Curran always wants in his teams.
The Stanners called a timeout and started applying more pressure on the ball and the Ravens started coughing up the ball. Jason Cethoute came up big with 4 straight points taking the ball inside, and then Watler scored 6 straight. All the points were scored off of tenacious pressure defense, and after being behind 56-45, Molloy was on a 10-0 run to once again cut the deficit to just 1 with 3:39 to go.
Ferguson stopped the run with a big three from the left wing, and from that point on Molloy seemed to be chasing, but not quite able to catch the Ravens. They cut the lead to one again with 10 seconds left, but McKennon, showing the pressure was not too much for him, hit a pair of big free throws to make it 72-69.
After a timeout, Molloy drove the ball up the court, and Kilpatrick got the ball and nailed a three pointer from the right wing at the buzzer with 2 defenders in his face, to tie the game at 72 and send the game into overtime.
Molloy had all the momentum, and Watler opened the scoring in the overtime with a beautiful spin move driving down the lane. It looked like the Stanners with the crowd going wild would pull away, but the Ravens had other ideas.
Santos hit on a spin in the post, and Ferguson continued to step up big hitting a contested lay in off a steal at midcourt to give St. Ray's a 79-77 lead. With Kilpatrick missing on his first two threes of the overtime period, Molloy looked to Isacha Tucker who drained a 15 footer with 23 seconds left to tie the game up again.
A 2nd overtime looked inevitable, but with 3 seconds left Watler fouled Ferguson about 30 feet away from the basket. Ferguson went on to calmly hit both free throws. Molloy had one last shot, Watler had a decent look from just inside midcourt that fell short as time ran out, and St. Ray's would celebrate coming away with a 81-79 road win.
Santos led the way for the Ravens with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Ferguson added 21 as well. Watler led all scorers with 30 for Molloy, with Kilpatrick chipping in 14 as well.
Closing out close games is something that St. Ray's Coach Jorge Lopez said he has been preaching to his team since the first day of practice. He has seen his team struggle with that at times, but seemed pleased with the eventual result.
"We saw in scrimmages early on, we would get out in front and then led teams chip away at us. It happened again in the 4th today, but we hung out. We showed fight and character out there." Lopez said.
Ferguson's 21 points came after the first year Ravens coach had a sit down meeting with the junior guard on Thursday, asking the guard to buy into the program.
"Coach said I need to settle down and buy in and score within the plays, so I took what coach said to heart today and stayed confident, and good things came." Ferguson said.
It was agony for Molloy, who after dropping a tough game to Cardinal Hayes on Tuesday, fell again in the toughest of all circumstances on Friday. Curran though explained that there were enough positives to come out of games like this though that they can build from it.
"These games will make us a lot better. Either team could've won today and I think my guys know that." Curran said.
He did though admit that on the final defensive play, Watler believed that they were down by 1 and needed to foul, but again Curran didn't seem too upset with the situation. "Yeah, he thought we were down and fouled on purpose, it's disappointing, but it happens."
St. Ray's will next try and build on this momentum as they go to Binghamton to play in the Stop-DWI Holiday Classic after Christmas, while Molloy stays home after the holiday where they will look to rebound when they face All Hallows in a home non-league matchup next Saturday.
Click Here to view this Link.