By Dylan Butler
Brian Voelkel epitomizes what the Iona Prep basketball team is this year. The 6-foot-6 forward is strong, versatile, smart and experienced, one of five seniors the Gaels start on most occasions.
St. Raymond’s, meanwhile, has but one senior who has a little experience. That was the difference in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon as Iona Prep outscored the Ravens by 11 in the pivotal period en route to a season-opening 71-60 victory in the Bronx.
The Vermont-bound Voelkel had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, a triple-double that truly showcases his skill and versatility.
For a second straight game, St. Raymond’s (0-2) struggled down the stretch. The same was true in a season-opening 63-54 loss to New Rochelle on Friday night.
“We have to teach them how to execute when it matters,” St. Ray’s coach Oliver Antigua said. “When they’re playing throughout the course of the game, they’re free-flowing, its OK, no pressure. But I think we made some bad decisions and took some quick shots that really hurt us.”
Sophomores Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro scored 15 points apiece for the Ravens, but both missed key shots in the fourth quarter. That’s just what Jordan Bronner didn’t do. Iona Prep’s senior guard scored a game-high 22 points, including his team’s first seven points of the fourth quarter as the Gaels snapped a 53-all tie.
St. Raymond’s got within 58-57 on a Dingle layup, but Iona Prep went on an 8-0 run, capped by a Voelkel 3-pointer from the top of the key, a dagger that extended the Gaels lead to 66-57 with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a great player,” Antigua said of Voelkel. “We knew coming in he’d be a handful and at halftime we said we needed to help out. He’s a senior and you could tell. His body is stronger and he was kind of pushing us around.”
Sandro Carissimo had 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Andre Savage added 12 points for an Iona Prep team without starting guard Jeff Mack, a star running back on the school’s football team who was playing in the CHSFL Senior Bowl.
“Things didn’t go our way, but it was just one of those games you have to gut out,” Quirolo said.
“We never got into a flow, we never really shot well. The kids just found a way to gut it out and that’s good to see.”
Senior guard Gabe Burroughs had 13 points and highly-touted junior guard Devin Brooks struggled, scoring just four points on 2-of-8 shooting. Despite falling to 0-2, Dingle is confident the Ravens will be a force in February and March.