NYCHoops - Ravens Pressure Bursts Iona Preps Pipes
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Ravens Pressure Bursts Iona Preps Pipes

Malachi Smith drives to rim for two
Malachi Smith drives to rim for two (M. Wingate)

NEW ROCHELLE, NY – The St. Raymond Ravens have remained on top of our NYCHoops.net rankings and the CHSAA standings thus far due to their consistent approach. The Iona Prep Gaels found that out the hard way on Friday evening as the Ravens unleashed a vice grip defense to squeeze out a 76 – 56 victory with anaconda precision.

St. Ray’s Head Coach Jorge Lopez said that pressure defense is the mantra. “We pride ourselves on defense," he said. "That’s really been our focal point throughout the season.”

The Gaels tried to give St. Ray’s a taste of their own medicine as they applied defensive pressure as well while also throwing a 2-2-1 and other zones to obfuscate but Lopez said he alerted his team of that possibility. “I told our guys that we had to be strong with the ball because they’re gonna try to jump us.”

In the open quarter, Iona Prep hung tight with the Ravens as Aiden Hildebrand ‘20 and Keyshawn Jones ‘21 got buckets. St. Ray’s countered with a more balanced attack as Reggie Hudson ‘20, Dallas Dillard ‘21 and Ray Pimental ‘22 scored over Prep’s zone.

Reggie Hudson brings the ball up court
Reggie Hudson brings the ball up court

Down by 10 points as the second half started, the Gaels tried to give as good as they got. While that did translate to a 41 -31 half time deficit, it was also a zero sum gain for the New Rochelle squad.

Jones sparked an Iona Prep run in the third quarter, scoring back-to-back-to-back. Midway through that quarter, the Gaels narrowed the gap to 4 points but shortly thereafter, St. Raymond’s relentless pressure began to yield results. Malachi Smith ‘21 went off offensively with help from Luis Kortright ‘20 and Gary Grant ‘20 who sat out the first half as he’s being slowly integrated into the Ravens, recently returning after a leg injury.

Pressure busts pipes and what was once a 10 point advantage doubled by the end of the third quarter and the game was a lock for the Ravens after that.

When asked how St. Raymond's consistently remained one of the top teams in the rankings while others have fallen off that perch, Coach Lopez replied candidly, “We wanted to make sure that we were the best defensive team in the Catholic League and we’ve proven that.” Lopez added, “Because we’re able to stop other teams from having big nights, I think that’s allowed us to establish our ourselves as probably one the top teams in New York City.”

Hudson was the high man for St. Ray’s with 19 points with Smith contributing 14 points. Jones led Iona Prep with 16 points.