TRENTON, NJ- An early Sunday afternoon match-up featured a traditional New Jersey public school powerhouse facing off against a traditional New York City catholic school powerhouse.
The St. Raymond's Ravens were able to climb back into the game in the second half, but lost in overtime to Linden 77-68.
The Ravens began the game on an aggressive note, by putting on the full court pressure and running the floor when the opportunities presented themselves. However, Coach Phil Colicchio's squad was able to break the press easily and score in their half court offense. Linden tried to throw the ball inside as much as possible to 6'9" division one prospect David Bruce. The Tigers were also able to get some strong early perimeter play for Houston-bound guard Desmond Wade. A tip-in at the buzzer from wide-bodied Charlton Wilson at the buzzer gave Linden an 18-14 lead heading into the second quarter.
St. Raymond's was able to catch a major break, when with 6:31 to go in the second quarter, the Linden big man Bruce picked up his second foul. Colicchio decided to roll the dice and keep him in the game despite his foul trouble. The move paid off, as the presence of Bruce kept the Ravens out of the paint and forced them to launch several three pointers throughout the second quarter. A Desmond Wade floater with 2:33 to go in the second quarter ballooned the Linden lead to 26-18.
St. Raymond's junior forward Kevin Parrom became the main offensive threat on this afternoon for the CHSAA School. Parrom scored in several different ways, including a pretty lay-up along the baseline with 32 seconds to play in the opening half, which cut the Linden advantage to 30-24. However, a tip in at the buzzer from the 6'9" Bruce increased the public school's lead to 32-24 heading into the locker room. David Bruce led his Tiger team with 11 points in the first half, while the senior guard Wade chipped in with 6 points in the opening 16 minutes of play. The junior Parrom led the Ravens at the half with 11 points, and West Virginia-bound senior guard Darryl Bryant contributed with 6 points.
Heading into the second half, the Ravens knew that they would have to do a better job of controlling the paint and rebounding the ball better in order to come back and beat Linden. "Our intensity wasn't there in the first half," said Coach Oliver Antigua following the game, as he added, "from tip backs to all of the offensive rebounds they got, we just weren't focused enough." His squad was also able to turn up the tempo, and a lay-up from under-heralded guard Tyreak Johnson with 4:21 to go in the third quarter decreased Linden's lead to 38-33. The Bronx school was able to come back thanks to the outside shooting prowess of "Truck" Bryant, who held the hot hand throughout the third quarter. Linden continued to be led by the 6'9" Bruce, for whom St. Raymond's had no answer inside the paint. Another lay-up in transition from the junior Johnson tied the game at 42 with 1:01 to play in the third stanza. St. Raymond's was able to end the quarter with the lead and the momentum, as they held a 44-42 advantage heading into the fourth and final session.
St. Raymond's clamped down defensively in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, as forwards Kevin Parrom and Delroy Daley stepped up and neutralized Linden's David Bruce inside. However, the Ravens weren't able to pull away when given the opportunity to because of poor free throw shooting. Linden was able to regain the lead after guard Jerelle Louis completed and and-one opportunity with 4:03 to play in the final quarter. Junior guard Omari Lawrence stepped his game up offensively stepped his own offensive game up, as he gave his St. Ray's team the lead back after completing his own and-one opportunity with just over three minutes play. With 1:05 to play and Linden up 57-54, the Ravens were able to force a bad pass and a turnover and the junior Parrom finished a lay-up to cut their deficit to 57-56. Desmond Wade answered back with a floater of his own to increase the lead to 59-56 with just over 40 second left in regulation. The senior guard Bryant was fouled on the ensuing possession and after knocking down both free throws, Desmond Wade was fouled and sent to the line with just one point lead. Wade knocked down both of his free throws that followed to put the New Jersey school up 61-58 with 19.8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. After a series of three timeouts called by St. Raymond's, the senior guard Bryant stepped up and knocked down an off-balance three pointer with 5 seconds left to tie the game at 61 and sent the match into overtime.
The pace of the opening seconds of overtime didn't reflect that of regulation, as the game became fast and hectic on both ends of the floor. Linden contained the Ravens fast attack, and held a 65-63, when with 1:38 left, guard Elijah Hodge knocked down one of two free throws to give the Ravens a 66-63 lead. On the next possession, St. Raymond's junior Lawrence went to the free throw line, a place where the Ravens struggled all afternoon, and knocked down one of his two free throws to reduce the CHSAA team's deficit to 66-64. Linden would go back to the charity stripe on the next possession, when forward David Bruce would knock down both of his free throws to give Linden a two-possession lead. The Tigers would knock down their remaining free throws, and finished 28-35 from the charity stripe, and won their overtime match 77-68. The 6'9" Bruce won the game MVP award by finishing with 34 points and knocking down several key free throws don't the stretch. The Ravens were led by the West Virginia-bound Bryant, who scored 22 points, while Kevin Parrom chipped in with 15 in the losing effort.
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