BRONX, NY – On Saturday, St. Raymond hosted Thomas Jefferson Campus during the City Legendz Classic’s opening day. In a battle of the undefeateds, someone’s “0” had to go. Like any heavyweight fight, it came down to who would blink first. The Ravens blinked in the fourth quarter, giving Jefferson their ninth win in a row, 97-92.
Shamorie Ponds & Isaiah Deas
St. Raymond head Coach Jorge Lopez attributed the loss to fatigue. “We shot 30 for 50. We missed 20 free-throws. They did a good job pressuring us and trying to wear us down.”
Cahiem Brown (21 points) sets it off for St. Rays but Davere Creighton (10 points) goes tit for tat, tying the game at three. Creighton and Isaiah Deas (13 points) would soon put Jefferson ahead, 7-4 early.
It seemed Jefferson’s strategy was to have Creighton go at Sid Wilson in the post. With solid offense from Shamorie Ponds (31 points) masterful facilitation by PG Jaquan McKennon (13 points), the Orange Wave took a 13-5 advantage with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
“Coach told us to play them physical cuz they’re young,” said Ponds
McKennon, who played for St. Ray’s as a sophomore said he was just focused on getting the win for Jefferson and not trying to show-up his old school. “I told [McKennon] he could either be the hero or the villain,” said Orange Wave head coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “He set guys up early. He took what the defense gave him and he played hard. I thought he played his best game.”
Coach Lopez called a timeout to regroup but a trey by Ponds and a layup by McKennon gave Jefferson a 13 point lead with 2:30 mark. Wilson (21 points) would get his first points with a perimeter shot that sparked the Ravens to cut their deficit to 5. A late trey by Ponds would end the opening quarter with Jefferson still ahead 24-16.
St. Rays took a minute to adjust to the 1-3-1 defensive zone that Thomas Jefferson threw at them in the opening quarter. Brown began to heat up from the perimeter and the Ravens were now within 4 but shortly thereafter, Wilson picked up his 2nd foul and had to sit. With St. Rays star sophomore on the bench Jefferson upped their lead to 30-21 with 5:04 left in the half.
The Ravens fought back. Brown drained a trifecta and Ross scored inside St. Ray’s pulled back to within 2 with 3 minutes. However, Jefferson’s firepower continued to answer the call. Ponds pushed Jeff’s lead to 43-32 with 2:10. In a half of runs, St. Rays responded late as Isaiah Washington (3 points) netted a pull-up and notched an assist to cut the lead 44-42 to begin the third quarter.
Jaquan McKennon played his best game
Ponds and Brown were powering their teams with 17 and 15 points in the first half respectively but Ponds started the second have saddled with 3 fouls. Wilson immediately attacks the paint at the top of the first and gives the Ravens, a 45-44 lead with 7:49.
St. Rays began to match Jefferson’s physicality and Wilson increased the lead to 4 before Jefferson would catch their second wind and counter. With 4:30, Ponds knotted game at 50 but he soon picked up his 4th foul. With Ponds forced to ride the bench, St. Rays improved their lead to 55-51 with 3:13 left in the third with blue collar work from 6’2″ senior Rich Ross (22 points). Deas tied the game at 57 with a trey.
Jeff took a lead but defensive blocks and a dunk by Wilson left Rays only down 60-59. Deas would score a clutch bucket with 30 seconds in the quarter and a buzzer beater by Kerome Grant (5 points) gave Jefferson a 65-60 lead at the end of three quarters.
Jefferson increase their lead to 66-60 as 15 again but Wilson tried to shift the momentum with and1 facial. Jefferson clung to a lead with 6:48 as Ponds still watched from the sidelines. McKennon put Jeff up 71-64 with 6:40 scoring from the charity stripe but Wilson responded with clutch jumper for the Ravens. With 6:01 the score was 71-67.
Ponds re-entered the game and immediately put points on the board from the corner. With 4:19, Jefferson led 80-75 as Deas and Raheem Dunn (10 points) added offense.
Ross kept the game close as he continued to battle in the paint. St. Rays cut Jeff’s lead to 80-77 with 4 minutes but Ponds drew a foul and got to the line with 3:50. The sharpshooter only went 1-2 but 6’6″ junior Lydell Geffrard (7 points) battled inside and fouled 15 out. 3:38 and Jeff only up two but Jordan Colson (7 points) increased the lead back to 84-79. Teflon would seem to cover the Ravens rim as the wheels began to fall off the Ravens bandwagon.
Wilson missed two free-throws and Colson scored on the other end for Jefferson. Brown would get to the foul line but went 1-2 and Rays soon trailed 86-80 with 2:26 left to play. Wilson got to the line and goes 2-2 but Ponds scores inside.
Brown missed Rays 5th and 6th foul shots. With 54.8 seconds remaining, Ponds drew a foul and Jefferson was now up by five points. Ross gets to line and goes 0-2 plus missed shots by Brown and Wilson down the stretch put Jeff in driver’s seat as time ran out.
Coach Lopez said he was proud of his team even in defeat. “They did exactly what I asked them to do but we hurt ourselves by missing free-throws. Down by five, we hit half of those, we win the game.” Lopez said St. Ray’s can play with the best teams in New York.”
Asked if he was worried about the foul trouble that forced him to spend an inordinate amount of time on the bench, Ponds replied, “My teammates told me to sit back and relax. They said ‘we got this’ and I believed them.”
Article by Maurice Wingate NYCHOOPS.NET