Oliver Antigua was forced to call a timeout midway through the fourth quarter as his St. Raymond team was beginning to show its age. The Ravens were watching Archbishop Stepinac slowly get back into the game and rattle them with pressure defense.
“Finish the game right now,” the coach told his team in the huddle.
The Crusaders got as close as nine, but the Ravens, while it wasn’t always crisp, did enough to hold for a 72-63 non-league win in The Bronx Friday afternoon. Kerwin Okoro led the way with 17 points and Devin Brooks had 15 points and eight assists for the Ravens (1-2). Daniel Dingle had 11 points, five assists and five rebounds.
St. Raymond sophomore forward Kerwin Okoro scored 17 points in the Ravens win over Stepinac Friday.
“We let down in the end, but we fought it out and got the win,” Dingle said. … “We should have finished out stronger, but that all has to do with inexperience. We are learning. It’s a process.”
The win was the first of the season for a St. Raymond team that starts three sophomores and has lost hard-fought games to Iona Prep and New Rochelle. This time it found itself in the driver’s seat after building a 41-21 halftime lead.
“I think it is human nature that when you are up by 20 to kind of relax,” Antigua said. “That is the first time we have been up 20. We don’t know how to do that either.”
The Ravens stifled the Crusaders (3-1) with defensive pressure and went on a 15-2 run to open up a 25 -11 lead with 5:40 left before halftime. The speedy Brooks was nearly flawless running the fast break. Dingle, though, dominated on both ends. He scored inside, knocked down a 3-pointer and showed he is unselfish and a superb passer. He hit Okoro cutting for a 3-point play and Myron Hickman down court later for an easy layup to extend his team's lead to 36-19 with 2:41 left in the second quarter.
“I know as soon as he touches the ball I am cutting baseline and finding a way to get open because I know he hits me,” Okoro said.
Stepinac, which played with star forward Conroy Baltimore in foul trouble, came out firing in the second half. It pressed St. Raymond full court, causing the Ravens to get sloppy and commit costly turnover as the Crusaders found their stroke from behind the arc. They hit six 3-pointers after the break including one from Rich Whitten, who scored 15 points, and four by Mike Soriano, who had 12 points. Stepinac trailed just 63-54 after a Kadeem Francis layup with 3:07 left in the game.
“I told them [St Raymond's is] going to go on runs,” Stepinac coach Tim Philp said. “We just have to respond to it. I was happy with our response.”
So were the Ravens with theirs.
Outside of two straight turnovers very late they made their free throws down the stretch and got key rebounds to secure the win. Still, they know that a more consistent effort will be needed moving forward.
“We can be intense and we could be disciplined,” Okoro said. “But it’s how long are we going to do it for?”