St. Raymond continually tried to dig itself out of an early hole only to be met with swift answers from Iona Prep.
The Ravens, who twice trailed by 17 points, rallied to within six early in the fourth quarter. Iona star Ty Jerome, who scored a game-high 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds, responded by making two free throws to spark his team’s run to keep St. Raymond at bay.
That was the third quick response by the Gaels in a 74-61 victory over the Ravens in the CHSAA Archdiocesan boys’ basketball final at Mount St. Michal last Saturday. It is the first Class AA crown in school history for Iona.
“Every time we felt like we were making some type of headway, it just felt like they took the air out of the ball,” St. Ray’s coach Jorge Lopez said.
Jerome, a Virginia commit, toyed with St. Raymond all afternoon. He hit a three-pointer to end the first quarter to put the Gaels up 17-6 after the first quarter and buried consecutive treys to make it 37-19 Iona at the half. The stellar performance came after Jerome missed recent games with a hip flexor.
“He was just having one of those day,” Lopez said. “It was almost impossible to stop him.”
Cahiem Brown paced St. Raymond (16-11) with 17 points and Isaiah Washington tallied 16. Armstrong DaJour and Sidney Wilson each added eight. Tom Capuano scored 15 points for Iona (21-5) and Notre Dame-bound forward Matt Ryan chipped in 11. The Ravens were within 10 with 1:00 to play in the third, but Iona scored the final five points of the frame. The run was highlighted by a corner three from Ryan.
“St. Ray’s is a rhythm team,” Jerome said. “When they get in rhythm they are hard to stop. When stop their runs early they can’t get in rhythm.”
St. Raymond still had one final run left in it.
The Ravens began to pound the offensive glass and got hot from behind the arc. Malik Mooving and Washington each hit 3-pointers and Wilson scored four straight points inside as part of an 11-0 run to pull St. Ray’s within 58-52 with 6:08 to go in the game. Iona scored five straight points after a Washington three to go back up 66-55 with 4:07 remaining in the contest.
“The game was right there in our hands and it slipped away,” Washington said.
It was still a productive diocesan tournament for the young Ravens team despite losing in the final. St. Raymond beat rival Hayes in the semifinals to reach its third title game in the last four years. It also earned a bye in the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional quarterfinals on March and some time to rest a nicked up roster.
“We have a couple of guys who are banged up,” Lopez said. “A couple of days off will do some good and then get back to work.”