The St. Raymond’s basketball team had just cut its halftime deficit to four points with two quick buckets to open the third quarter and Mo Hicks called a 30-second timeout to talk things over with his club.
Only, the Rice coach had nothing to say.
“I didn’t even say anything to them,” Hicks said. “I just looked at them. I never said a word at all during that timeout. I just stared at all of them. At that point, I let them talk.”
The message by the Rice players was simple: “It’s over,” Durand Scott said.
The Miami-bound senior did his loudest talking on the court, scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to lead the Raiders to a 60-42 CHSAA Class AA victory at St. Raymond’s Friday afternoon.
“He’s a great player. He’s a four-year varsity player and he has to be able to step up and be our leader this year,” Hicks said of Scott. “In a game of this magnitude against St. Ray’s, what a better game for him to step up and be that leader.”
Exactly a week removed from a stunning, 46-45 upset at Gauchos Gym, Rice (13-2, 7-1 CHSAA ‘AA’) went into St. Raymond’s and evened the score.
“I believe we should have won that game,” Scott said. “But we thought of this game as a new day, a new game to come out fresh and come out prepared to play.”
Added Hicks: “I thought the last time we played them we didn’t do a good job of defending and keeping the ball out of the paint. I think this time we accomplished a lot of our goals and it showed on the score.”
Scott picked up his second foul with 2:48 left in the first quarter, but battled back from first-half foul trouble to dominate in the third quarter. Immediately following Hicks’ silent timeout, Scott scored his team’s next seven points.
And when he scored on a putback in the waning seconds of the third quarter, Rice had a comfortable 42-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter and Scott had 11 third-quarter points.
“(The difference) was a much more motivated and aggressive Durand Scott,” St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua said. “He had foul trouble in the first half and had an unbelievable second half. He took the game over and asserted his will.”
Scott, though, wouldn’t take full credit for his team’s impressive victory. Shamel Williams had 10 points and fellow senior James Stukes added nine. Jose Rodriguez had 13 points for St. Raymond’s (12-7, 6-2), Tyreak Johnson had 11 and sophomore Sidiki Johnson (no relation) was held to just four points, all from the foul line.
The Ravens couldn’t handle Rice’s defensive intensity and had 24 turnovers, nine more than last week.
“We had too many turnovers. Credit to Rice’s defensive pressure,” Antigua said. “We didn’t do a good job of handling it. … Their defense was a huge factor in how we played today. In the first game we handled their pressure. We didn’t do a good job this time.”
Said Scott: “We stress defense every day, every moment, on the court, off the court.”