SPRINGFIELD, MASS. - St. Raymond's High School from the Bronx came into this game having played several tough league games in the CHSAA, so it came as no surprise that the Ravens came into this game well prepared to play another national powerhouse in Taft High School.
Coach Oliver Antigua's squad was able to use a big fourth quarter to top the California power 84-69 on Sunday at the Hoophall Classic.
St. Raymond's started with an early lead thanks to lay-ups by Kevin Parrom and Omari Lawrence to give them a 4-0 lead less than 20 seconds into the game. On the other end of the equation, Taft was looking to throw the ball inside to Long Beach State-bound big man Eugene Phelps and frontcourt mate Terran Carter. St. Ray's was able to extend their early lead to 8-2 on a Delroy Daley lay-up with just under five minutes left in the opening quarter.
St. Ray's put on the full-court pressure and found success, as they were able to force Taft into several turnovers, which resulted in lay-ups on the other end for the Ravens. Taft sharpshooter Bryce Smith was able to keep Taft in the game early, as they went into the second quarter down 20-18 to the Bronx school. The public school was able to slow the game down, which played in their favor as they whittled the lead during the final minutes of the first quarter.
UNLV-bound junior Justin Hawkins was able to give Taft their first lead of the game mid-way through the second quarter when he knocked down a long three to put his California team up 29-28. St. Raymond's was able to force North Carolina bound point guard Larry Drew to pick up his third foul with 2:31 left in the first half when Darryl "Truck" Bryant put in a lay-up and got fouled. However, Drew stayed in the game and knocked down two late three pointers to tie the game at 37 heading into halftime. St. Ray's was led by the 6'3" guard Lawrence with 13 points while Parrom chipped in with 10 for the Ravens in the first half while Smith led Taft with 14 points because of his hot perimeter shooting.
Along with Larry Drew's three fouls, Justin Hawkins picked up his third foul with 6:21 to go in the third session. Taft coach Derrick Taylor decided to roll the dice yet again and leave both Drew and Hawkins in the game. Taft also took a hit when Terran Carter went down with an injury with 5:18 left in the same quarter (he would re-enter the game later in the quarter). St. Raymond's coach Oliver Antigua made a switch to the game-plan when he decided to play a man-to-man press against Taft in the second half instead of the zone press which he used in the opening half, which left the shooter, Bryce Smith, open a number of times. "When we went to full court man-to-man I think that really helped us. I think they wore down but it also didn't leave any shooters open," said Antigua following the game.
After a St. Ray's run late in the third quarter, the point guard Drew answered with a fade-away three-point buzzer beater to cut Coach Oliver Antigua's team's lead to 60-57 heading into the final quarter. Junior forward Kevin Parrom continued to carry the Ravens up front, as he hit the boards hard but also stepped out and knocked down a number of jumpers. The Ravens were able to increase their lead to 68-59 when "Truck" finished a lay-up in transition.
Omari Lawrence's circus lay-up with just over two minutes to go in the game gave St. Raymond's a game high 14 point lead at 76-62. The CHSAA school would cruise from there, as the Ravens went on to win 84-69. Kevin Parrom won the game MVP award and finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Omari Lawrence scored 23 points to compliment the forward Parrom.
The St. Ray's coach Antigua came away impressed with Parrom's performance, saying that Sunday's game was the best of the year for the junior forward. "For him to break out on TV (the game was broadcasted on ESPNU) and against a national school is great for him," said Antigua following the win.
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