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Sloppy first half dooms St. Raymond’s

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There were enough squandered fourth-quarter chances to steal a win against Bishop Loughlin in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals to give Oliver Antigua insomnia.

But when the St. Raymond’s boys’ basketball coach looks back at a season-ending, 77-74 loss Thursday night at St. Francis Prep, it’s not the final eight minutes that he will rue.

It’s the first 16.

The Ravens did a solid job all season handling adversity and playing with composure. But that wasn’t the case in the first half against Bishop Loughlin. St. Raymond’s (16-11) had 15 turnovers in the first half and gave up nine offensive rebounds.

The Ravens also didn’t do a good job on Bishop Loughlin star Jayvaughn Pinkston, especially in the second quarter. The junior man-child, who made his return after missing six games because he was ruled academically ineligible, erupted for 15 of his game-high 31 points in the second quarter.

The Lions led 44-31 at the break, giving the young Ravens a significant hill to climb in the second half.

The Ravens trailed 50-33 after a 3-pointer by Branden Frazier with 6:11 left in the third quarter, but, aided by a pesky 1-2-2 press, they chipped away at their deficit.

But it seemed that every time St. Ray’s would get within 10 points, Frazier (20 points) responded from the perimeter.

Led by sophomores Jose Rodriguez (22 points) and Sidiki Johnson, who had 18 points before fouling out with 1:39 left in the fourth, St. Ray’s got within four, 75-71, with 41.7 seconds left. But the turnover bug again bit the Ravens as Kareem Bernard dribbled the ball off his foot.

Down by three with 5.2 seconds left, Tyreak Johnson (14 points) stepped to the line for a pair of free throws, but missed both, including an air ball on the second shot.

Antoine Brown missed both foul shots end with 3.6 seconds left, opening the door once again. But Jatone Pierce-Bias couldn’t get a shot off in time.

Updated 5:24 pm, October 21, 2011
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