BRONX, NY - The battle of the Bronx heavyweights turned out being the battle of the season so far as NYCHoops.net #1 ranked Cardinal Hayes stepped into the home of the #4 ranked St. Raymond and handed the Ravens their second straight loss. Playing catch-up for most of the game, St. Ray's would be their own worst enemy in the fourth quarter, losing, 69-64.
"It was a good win, said Cardinals head coach Joe Lods. "I told the guys, in order to be an elite team we have to beat teams like St. Ray's and Christ the King."
In front of a 50% - 50% packed gymnasium which included coaches from Fordham and St. John's, Hayes came out aggressive early and their Bigs dominated the paint. Amadou Sidibe (8 points) and Jalen Jenkins (22 points) pounded the Ravens frontcourt and soon led 8-2.
Lorenzo Rojas (2 points) ended the Ravens drought sparking a 6-0 run that ended with Daniel Dingle tying the game at eight with 4:21 left in the quarter.
The Cardinals successfully pressured the Ravens backcourt, minus an injured Myron Hickman, and Jenkins regained the lead with back-to-backs while Shavar Newkirk (7 points) and Naasir Williams added to the point spread. With 30 seconds remaining and ahead seven, junior point guard and Rice HS transfer Tyler Wilson (16 points) calmly let the clock run down and kicked it out to fellow Rice transfer, Chris Robinson (12 points) who drained a trey at the buzzer.
The Ravens were down 21-11 to start the second quarter and seemed somewhat out of sorts as they committed careless turnovers. They were also unable to take advantage of Sidibe's absence due to foul trouble and St. Raymond's deficit soon increased to 15 points.
Hayes seemed to be in full control as Sidibe reentered the game and promptly dunked the ball but the tide would turn as the jumpers by Kayven Williams (8 points) shifted the momentum to the home court as the crowd went nuts.
Point guard Shane Rector would go hard to the hole, cutting the Cardinal's lead to eight and Daniel Dingle (24 points) would go to work. With about 30 seconds left in the half, the Temple bound senior knocked down a trey to tie the score at 32. The Ravens were seconds away from heading to the locker room on a positive note but a buzzer beating 3-ball by Jenkins put the Cardinals back on top, 35-32.
In the third quarter, the Ravens stayed neck and neck with the Cardinals but were only exchanging points and not gaining any ground. Nkereuwem Okoro (17 points) was clutch in the third quarter for St. Ray's as was Jenkins for Hayes.
The Cardinals still maintained a 47-42 advantage to start the fourth quarter but Sidibe, Jenkins and Newkirk were now saddled with four fouls each. This put the Ravens in a good position to make a run but a combination of Hayes' depth and St. Ray's lack of execution would ultimately be their undoing.
Although Dingle, Okoro and Larry Graves (6 points) came up with big shots down the stretch, it was as if St. Ray's was running in place on a treadmill. Shooting a dismal 1 of 10 from the free-throw line in the last four minutes, the Ravens would take one step forward and one step back, unable to even capitalize on Sidibe and Newkirk fouling out.
After cutting the lead down to 3 points with 3:28 left to play, the Ravens would fall back down by seven as Wilson busted up the their defense to close the show.
A clearly dejected Ravens' squad stormed off the court.