March 1, 2009

Raiders Win Back-to-Back

On Saturday, the NY Diocesan chip of the CHSAA was between the Rice Raiders of Manhattan against the St. Raymond Ravens of the Bronx.

The Ravens, one of the few teams to beat the Raiders during the regular season, were looking to slow the game down. A strategy that stifled Rice's up tempo offense before. While the strategy did work early for the Bronx squad, overcoming a deficit and taking a lead, the Raiders would bounce back to repeat, taking the chip, 65-58.

Although the pace was quick, the score was low as both teams shot a low percentage. The Raiders missed midrange opportunities but did manage to slowly put up points. A jumper from the corner by Scott Arias and two Raven turnovers gave Rice a 9-4 advantage. A put back at the buzzer by 6-foot-8 center Kadeem Jack extended the Raider lead to 7.

To start the second quarter, veteran guard Tyreak Johnson reinvigorated his young Raven team scoring on a drive to the basket. Shane Southwell also started to heat up for Rice, dropping down a short jumper from the left side.

St. Rays did pulled to within 4 points in the first two minutes of the quarter but contributions by Shamel Williams and James Stukes quickly reestablished Rice in front with 4:33 left in the half. Both team fought hard in the paint but Rice's size advantage started to take its toll. Perimeter shots began to drop for St. Rays as Kareem Bernard, a 6-foot-3 senior, and 6-foot-7 sophomore Sidiki Johnson scored. 6-foot-3 freshman Nkeruwen Okoro and Shamel. Johnson banged down critical free throws to cut the Rice lead to 22-19 with 2:10 left.

Willliams, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, came up big on the offensive boards for Rice but the Ravens responded. With a chance to cut the lead to 2 points, Harold McBride missed a jumper from the corner. Stukes would then bang a jumper, right of the key for the Raiders as time ran out, giving Rice a 28-22 lead at the half.

Coming in fired up, Tyreak Johnson nailed a 3-pointer to start the half and suddenly Rays was again within 3-points but Miami-bound Durand Scott, who had up until then been relatively quiet, responded, snaking his way in for 2-points. On the very next play Scott took a knee to the stomach on defense as had to sit out briefly.

The Ravens tried to use a motion offense but the Raiders defended well. Sidiki Johnson played dominated the paint giving the Ravens opportunities by pulling down rebounds both defensive and offensive. An acrobatic and-1 scoop shot by Tyreak Johnson with 4:46 left put the Ravens again to within 1 point and S. Johnson would give go up strong and get fouled, going 1-2 at the line, tying the score at 34 apiece.

Missed free throws by Shamel Williams and a midrange by McBride gave the Ravens a 36-34 lead with 3:30 left in the quarter. Sidiki Johnson continued to impose his will in the paint, extending the Ravens lead to 5 points off an and-1.

Southwell finally scored for Rice and a charge on S. Johnson would give the Raiders the ball with 2:21 remaining in the third. Uncharacteristic bad passes gave Raven possession of the rock and Okoro scored inside. T. Johnson penetrated down the lane and now the Ravens were up by 6 points with 52 seconds left.

A poor free throw percentage by Rice compounded issues and the Manhattan team was suddenly on the short end of a 15 point reversal of fortune.

Down 45-36 to start the final quarter Rice needed to execute. Unfortunately for Rice it would be the Ravens who was executing well as a frustrated Scott was unable to convert.

With 5:37 left Scott and Jack did manage to cut the lead down to 2 points as Rice began to ratchet up the defensive intensity and benefit off turnovers.

McBride responded with a bucket but Jermaine Sander pulled Rice to within 1 with a 3-ball from the corner. Missed free throws by Jose Rodriguez and another 3-pointer by Scott and Rice was now up 50-48 with 4:44 left in regulation.

Sanders came up big again from the arc just as the Ravens were threatening to make a move and at the 3:45 mark the Raiders were still up by 4 points.

With time running down, the Ravens were in a predicament as they could not afford to slow the game down but so much. Rodriguez cracked the Rice defense for a lay-up followed by another jumper to keep Rays close but the Raiders were on all cylinders.

With 1:47, Sidiki Johnson would get called for a charge and Rice was be up 61-55. With the Ravens now playing, Rice's up tempo game they would quickly go down by 8 points as Sanders scored off a lay-up in transition. With only 13.7 left on the clock Rice would go on to win.

Durand Scott led Rice with 17 points followed by Jermaine Sanders with 9 points. Tyreak Johnson scored 19 points for St. Rays while Sidiki Johnson followed with 14 points and an impressive 19 rebounds.




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