Ravens fly into CHSAA Class AA semifinals
St. Raymond’s defeats Holy Cross, 67-60, in quarterfinals
By DYLAN BUTLER
Their 13-point lead was whittled down to two with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter. Holy Cross had turned it up defensively and it seemed the heat was too much for a young St. Raymond’s squad.
But the Ravens withstood the pressure, showing maturity beyond their years in beating Holy Cross, 67-60, in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals at St. Francis Prep Thursday night.
“We’ve been through the tough wars like this before,” Daniel Dingle said. “We went down to Rice, Bishop Loughlin so we matured as the year went on with those tough losses.”
St. Raymond’s (13-14) advances to the semifinals where it will take on Christ the King Wednesday at St John’s University. The Royals defeated Queens rival Archbishop Molloy in the other semifinal.
“I think we’ve come a long way,” St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua said. “We really believe in each other and even when things got a little helter skelter, we called our plays out, we had a game plan and guys didn’t crack.”
No one played better than Dingle, one of two starting sophomores. The 6-foot-6 forward led the Ravens with 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
“I can’t say enough about his effort,” Antigua said. “He led us in points, rebounds and assists and he’s our center. That’s a pretty good night.”
Added fellow sophomore Kerwin Okoro: “He was unbelievable. … He surprises me all the time. For him to step up this year and play the way he played in this playoff game, it’s huge.”
Evan Conti scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, Jahleel Felix had 15, but was shut down by Okoro after halftime, Will Davis had 14 and Marcus Hopper had 10 for the Knights, who couldn’t get their offense into gear until late in the third quarter.
“It seemed like we were a beat off, guys were coming off screens at the wrong times, everything seemed to be a little out of sync,” Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary.
Twice in the fourth quarter, Holy Cross (17-10) got within two, the second time on Conti’s putback with 1:28 left.
But Dingle went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 44.5 seconds and Myron Hickman, who along with fellow guards Gabe Burroughs and Lawrence Graves, made big plays down the stretch, added two free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining to seal an impressive victory.
“Those guys were clutch, taking turns making huge plays,” Antigua said.
Okoro added 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks and Devin Brooks had 12 points for the Ravens, who lost to Bishop Loughlin in the quarterfinals last year at St. Francis Prep.
Several key players from that squad, including Arizona-bound Sidiki Johnson, transferred out of The Bronx school, leaving many to believe this would be a rebuilding year for the Ravens.
Instead, St. Raymond’s is one of the final four teams standing, a testament to the camaraderie of this young, but talented squad.
“With everybody leaving people didn’t think we’d make it that far, but we’re surprising people,” Okoro said. “My teammates believe in each other and together we can accomplish anything.”