SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -New Jersey native and future George Mason Patriot, Vaughn Gray, scored eighteen points on Sunday night as St. Benedict's Prep defeated St. Raymond's High School of Bronx, NY, 67 - 62 in day two of the Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic.
After the game, Gray (18 points, 5 assists, 2 steals) was appropriately awarded player of the game due to his balanced scoring and impressive playmaking. Gray said of his smooth, well-rounded offense, "I used to be more of a driver but I've been working on my jump-shot so I got that more consistent so I can be more of an all-around player."
The first half was closely contested and provided a frantic pace. St. Raymond's pushed the tempo; running off of both missed and made shots while St. Benedict's attempted to slow the game down and run their well-oiled half-court offense. Each side refused to give up on their contrasting strategies and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Gray gave the Grey Bees a twenty-eight to twenty-seven advantage at halftime.
In the second-half, St. Benedict's was able to slow-down the Raven's fast pace by stepping up their defensive efforts. Gray credited their defense stating, "We definitely like to pressure a lot in games, that's one of our principles. In big-time games we really pick up our D." This pressure, which held the Raven's to just eleven third quarter points, combined with Gray's ability to slice through the Raven's frontcourt, helped create a large lead for the Grey Bees going into the fourth quarter.
Despite being down by double-digits towards the end of the game, St. Raymond's never stopped battling, due in large part, to the efforts of Daniel Dingle (23 points, 12 rebounds 1 blocked-shot). Dingle made his presence known in the paint as his twenty-three points led the Raven's in scoring. Gray acknowledged Dingle's outstanding game, "He's a great player, to be that young and that good, he's got a lot of talent." Unfortunately for Dingle, The Raven's comeback fell short as Gray iced the game at the free-throw line.
Tonight proved that both teams have great potential to improve and make a splash on the national stage in the coming months. For Gray, this is definitely his goal, "Hopefully we can be top twenty-five in the country and have a great season." No doubt, St. Benedict's and their fans will enjoy the ride as Gray continues to be the man that tries to take them there.