Chris Taft pumped in 23 points, grabbed 15 rebounds
and swatted away five shots to lead Xaverian to a
convincing 66-49 win over St. Raymond's in the
quarterfinals of the CHSAA tournament Thursday night
at Iona College.
Taft was dominant at both ends of the floor, using
his size and strength to overpower Ray's pesky pesky
but undersized frontline defenders. Taft attacked the
glass relentlessly and altered countless shots inside.
After being knocked out of the CHSAA playoffs the last
two years in the row by St. Raymond's, Xaverian was
ready for war when they stepped on the floor Thursday
"These are tough kids," said Xaverian coach Jack
Elisi. "They're very competitive. Some of the mistakes
we make come from our overzealousness."
"They had beaten us the last two years in the
playoffs, and that's what I was thinking about right
when I got up this morning," said Taft. "We knew we
were going to straighten things out."
Xaverian dissected some film on St. Ray's, a tactic
that seemed to help them on Thursday.
"We watched some film and saw the things we did
wrong in the first game," said Taft. "(Thursday)we
played more together, rebounded the ball, and stopped
6'2'' combo guard Shaun Wynn also played a pivotal
role for Jack Elisi's club, running the offense and
neutralizing Villanova-bound wing Allen Ray,
harrassing Ray into a woeful 2-11 shooting night.
Xaverian parlayed nine first half points by Taft
and eight by 6'4'' jumping jack Shamar Green into a
27-19 halftime edge. The Ravens, who seemed out of
sync all night, struggled from the field early.
Xaverian was able to hold down a double digit lead
midway through the third quarter, keyed by a Taft dunk
and a beautiful three-quarter court pass by the big
man to hit a streaking Green, who glided in for the
Xaverian would continue to heap onto their lead late
in the third, as Taft sealed freshman Gavin Grant and
knocked down the turnaround jumper, and point guard
John Scalfani knocked down a three, pushing the
advantage to 15, at 44-29 with 1:10 left to play in
Xaverian would mount a 14-5 run from the three
minute mark in the fourth quarter until 5:48 in the
third, buoyed by successive trips to the free throw
line and Taft's boardwork. An uncontested dunk by Taft
and pair of free throws by senior guard Julius Goodwin
stretched the advantage to 22, at 61-39 with 4:07 left
to play, and the game was out of reach.
A flurry of Raven buckets over the last two minutes
would make the margin respectable, but the game wasn't
as close as the score indicated. St. Raymond's
quarterfinal round ouster marked the program's
earliest exit in recent memory, as the two-time
defending state champion was finally brought down by
youth, injuries, and a very strong CHSAA field.
Besides Ray, the majority of Gary Decesare's key
players will return next year, so expect a deep run in
The athletic wing Green chipped in 16 points for
Xaverian, while Wynn added 11 points. Goodwin
contributed 5 points and 5 assists.
St. Raymond's was led by junior Tariq Atkins' 15
points and 8 rebounds. Senior Davonne Folks added 12
points and 11 rebounds in his last high school game.
while Ray chipped in 4 points and 7 rebounds.