ST. JAMES, MARYLAND -- Riverdale Baptist from Upper Marlboro, MD, edged nationally ranked Laurinburg Institute from North Carolina, 68-67, on a three-pointer in the final seconds by junior Orlando Wright to take fifth place in the 29th Annual St. James Invitational Basketball Tournament.
The 17-7 Crusaders were led by top junior Sheray Thomas who scored 33 points on the way to a well-deserved All-Tournament Team Selection.
Laurinburg, with their up and down play, was able to gain a lead that reached eight points (22-14) as the first quarter buzzer sounded. The Tigers, who carried that same lead at the half (39-31), were led by junior forward Regis Koundija's 10 points. Thomas' 11 points paced Riverdale.
An 8-0 run by the Crusaders tied the score at 39-39 in the first 1:18 of the third quarter. A jump shot by senior forward Robert Collier gave Riverdale its first lead (43-41) of the game at the 5:05 mark. The Tigers regained the edge at 48-47 on a score by junior forward Boubacar Coly with 1:59 left in the quarter. A three-pointer by Koundjia put Laurinburg up 51-48. A tip-in by Thomas off his own missed shot reduced the spread to 51-50. Perhaps the only trouble Koundjia had in the game was not being in position for a decent attempt before time ran out.
Collier's field goal followed by four three throws by the 6-7 senior and Thomas put Riverdale up 56-51 at the 6:15 mark. Thomas's dunk off a missed free throw extended the lead to 58-51. Senior Jonthan Lyles, who transferred from the DC area to Laurinburg this semester, tied the score with 2:02 left. Coly hit one of two free throws to put the Tigers back in the lead at 67-66. Lyles added another free throw to extend the edge to 68-66 with 32 seconds left.
Then Wright's three-pointer at 0:03.2 gave the lead back to Riverdale (69-68). A desperation three-point shot by LI was off target as the buzzer sounded, enabling Riverdale Baptist to hold on to the win.
Laurinburg fell to 15-3 and will drop from it's current #17 spot in the USA Today's national poll when it's released on Tuesday.
In addition to Thomas' 33 points, Collier added 15 for the Crusaders. Koundjia led Laurinburg with 19 points. Senior Tristan Martin put in 15 points, including three thundering dunks that reverberated throughout the gym. Lyles also contributed 13 points for the Tigers.
Foul shooting was one of the differences in the game. Riverdale was 15 for 27 while Laurinburg only shot eight from the charity stripe, making five.