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Slow start dooms St. Ray’s final SNY loss

By Five Boro Sports

Oliver Antigua didn’t blame youth. He didn’t blame inexperience. He didn’t even blame the fact the game was televised live on SNY and maybe some of his players suffered from jitters.

He did acknowledge one thing: His St. Raymond’s boys’ basketball team wasn’t quite ready for primetime, not against a seasoned opponent such as Mount Vernon (N.Y.), which got 28 points from star Sherrod Wright.

“We totally fell apart early,” the coach said after a 70-54 loss in the finals of the SNY Invitational on Saturday night at NYU’s Coles Sports Center in the West Village.

That would be an apt description for the Ravens opening quarter. They trailed 23-8 eight minutes in after turning the ball over time after time against the Knights’ press, making ill-advised passes or over-dribbling against double-teams. St. Ray’s tailed 40-19 at halftime. They committed 14 turnovers and were out-rebounded 24-8.

“Today we stepped back with our effort and decision making,” Antigua said. “We weren’t ready for their intensity.”

Said junior guard Harold McBride, who led St. Ray’s with 14 points: “We need to play stronger and tougher. … We need to be ready from the jump against every team we face.”

To the Ravens’ credit, they kept fighting and remained competitive. They even got the deficit down to 11, at 60-49, with 4:56 remaining. But every time Mount Vernon (10-2) left an opening, St. Ray’s (10-6) either turned the ball over, missed an open jumper or Knight tossed in a dagger, either one of his patented pull-up jumpshots or by finishing a hard drive to the hole.

He finished with 28 points and five rebounds, garnering MVP honors.

“It’s a good feeling,” the senior said, “because a lot of people in the PSAL and CHSAA say we can’t play.”

Wright’s two-night showing – he also had 32 in the Knights’ opening-round win over Thomas Jefferson Friday night – was particularly impressive considering he has been nursing a sore wrist. He estimated it was at about 90 percent after shooting 23-of-38 in the two wins.

“I was just feeling it,” Wright said. “(My wrist) is starting to feel better.”

Antigua was encouraged by the play of McBride, who keyed the Ravens’ upset of Brooklyn PSAL power Boys & Girls on Friday. Sophomore Sidiki Johnson was effective against Mt. Vernon, scoring 10 points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Tyreak Johnson added 10 points and Joey DeLaRosa, another sophomore big man, scored 10 as well.

The coach, however, was unsure what his team learned from the mini-tournament, other than mistakes against a quality opponent are deadly.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “It could help us; it could hurt us. We’ve got a lot of games coming up. We won’t know until then.”

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