Xaverian had just taken a 3-point lead on a jumper from the corner by Justin Exum midway through the fourth quarter. St. Raymond’s was desperate for a response and Ravens coach Oliver Antigua knew just where to go.
He put the ball in the capable and calm hands of Tyreak Johnson, the lone senior to play significant minutes on a team that advanced to the CHSAA Class AA intersectional semifinals a year ago.
Tyreak Johnson scored 10 of his team’s final 12 points from the free throw line and helped lift St. Raymond’s to a 58-55 victory over Xaverian Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.
“I just knew he’d make the right decision with the ball, being a senior, a veteran of the team and having so many young guys on the team,” Antigua said. “He did a real nice job today.”
Tyreak Johnson also nearly had an impact on the game in a negative way for the Ravens, when he stepped on Sidiki Johnson’s ankle in the waning seconds, allowing Xaverian shooter Filip Bochkov an open look from the corner.
“The only thing I could think about was please don’t make it…that was crazy, the most outrageous thing I ever saw,” said Tyreak Johnson, who scored a game-high 18 points. “The kid was just wide open. I was in awe of that one.”
But Bochkov’s shot missed the basket altogether as the final buzzer sounded and Antigua breathed a sigh of relief.
“The way the league is this year, I think we’ll have a whole bunch of upsets,” he said. “Sneak road wins when you can and protect your home court. Win by three or five or 20, it’s a win. We’ll take it and learn from it.”
Bochkov knocked down his third trey of the game to open the fourth quarter to put Xaverian (5-5, 1-2 CHSAA ‘AA’) in front, 45-41, matching the Clippers largest lead of the game.
But Harold McBride came down the court and had the immediate response, burying a 3-pointer 25 seconds later to bring the Ravens to within a point.
“He made a big-time play,” Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said of McBride. “We got a four-point lead, we got a good defensive possession and he hit a good shot. There’s nothing more deflating.”
Exum (13 points) put the Clippers back in front, 49-46, with 5:03 left in regulation. But Tyreak Johnson took control in the final 4:47 to lead St. Raymond’s (8-3, 5-1), which limited its turnovers from 10 in the first half to three after halftime.
“We talked about trying to find who we are,” Antigua said. “The way I felt today, I had to give the ball to him and he did a nice job of drawing fouls and stepping up to the line.”
Sophomore Sidiki Johnson (16 points) also came up big down the stretch, knocking down a tough jumper in the lane with 40 seconds left to help lift the Ravens in a sluggish game.
“He played real good. He battled, got rebounds, putbacks, he was 4-for-7 from the free-throw line which is a real big improvement from past performances,” Tyreak Johnson said. “At the beginning I was trying to find out who I can get to help me lead this team. Guys just stepped up automatically. Sidiki is a natural-born leader on this team.”