By Danny Wild
NEW YORK - An elite national team from the Bronx? No Yankee pinstripes necessary in January, however, after St. Raymond stunned Holy Cross over the weekend to climb the national ladder.
The undefeated Bronx school, now 11-0 overall, sent a message on Sunday, knocking off MaxPrep's No. 3 team in the nation - and by nearly 10 points.
The slugfest for not only national bragging rights, but also city respect, is beginning to heat up now in 2008. St. Raymond's 77-69 victory over the Knights (9-2) put the Ravens at the top of both MaxPreps' and the New York State Sportswriters Association state polls as the No. 1 team in New York.
Holy Cross, fresh off a championship at the STOP-DWI classic, entered the city match-up over the weekend as one of the top teams in America - No. 3, to be exact - but it was a rude tumble back to reality when Kevin Parrom and the St. Raymond boys showed up.
Parrom scored 18 points and collected nine rebounds and four assists for St. Raymond in the win, a victory that moved the Ravens to No. 10 in the nation in MaxPrep's latest batch of national rankings. Delroy Daley had a career-high 17 points and seven rebounds, while guard Omari Lawrence was big with 15 points of his own.
"There is a lot of chemistry," Daley told the New York Daily News. "In the last one or two games, we've really connected. Kevin and I have learned each other's game and we just know how to help each other."
Sylven Landesberg led the Knights with 26 points while Tim Beinert chipped in with 21, but both players ran into foul trouble in the second half as St. Raymond's took over.
"We're just having a lot of fun out there," St. Raymond's coach Oliver Antigua told the Daily News. "We're scoring a lot of baskets. We'll give up a few to get the game going in transition, which is how we want to play. We're having a lot of fun that way."
Being undefeated must be fun for all involved. Darryl Bryant had 20 points to lead the Ravens to a win in the Gatorade Tournament of Champions in Puerto Rico last week before Parrom had 31 points in an 88-71 defeat of Archbishop Molloy (Queens) on Jan. 4.
St. Raymond is now ranked No. 8 in the current USA Today Super 25 national poll after spending last week on the bubble at No. 25.
Things aren't exactly getting easier for St. Raymond either; the Ravens now face Rice on Saturday and, in what should be a big time showdown, St. Patrick (New Jersey) on Sunday in the Nike Super 6 Invitational at Madison Square Garden. I'll be there on Sunday for this match-up with a courtside view.
St. Ray is No. 10 in MaxPrep's latest poll, but lets looks a little closer at how they really match-up with about three zillion other high school teams in America. St. Raymond is 11-0 overall, but the Ravens, incorrectly, are listed at 8-0 on MaxPreps.com, which prompts the question: how much higher should this team be based on its actual 11-0 mark?
But wait, there's more. Let me lay this out for you, to further complicate things:
St. Raymond's overall record is what?
11-0, according to USA Today and the NY Daily News
13-0, according to the New York Post
8-0, according to MaxPreps.com
6-0, according to St. Raymond's athletic's page
0-0, according to the CHSAA's official website
And let me add this: According to the Daily News and USA Today, St. Ray beat Holy Cross 77-69, but according to MaxPreps and the New York Post, it was 79-69. So, if you actually know the record of New York state's best team, please drop me an e-mail. Seriously.
And on the subject of the national poll, how about this twist: No. 2 Rice and No. 3 Holy Cross, each with a loss last week, have fallen down to No. 16 and No. 17, respectively.
Nationally, Newark's St. Benedict's Prep (13-0) leads the poll, followed by Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, 11-0) at No. 2 and familiar California football power Mater Dei (16-0) at No. 3. Gonzaga (Washington, 14-0) and St. Anthony (NJ, 9-0) finish up the national top-five squads.
USA Today, of course, has continued churning out polls, and if you head across the Hudson, you'll find the unanimous choice for America's No. 1 team, St. Benedict's Prep, in Newark. And, oh, by the way, these guys will be looking to protect their elite status on Sunday against Rice at the Garden. Again, this will be more entertaining than anything the Knicks can put on the court this season.
Alright, a quick rundown of the New York state MaxPreps poll as of Monday, Jan. 7:
1. St. Raymond (11-0, faces Rice and St. Patrick this weekend at MSG)
2. Rice (10-1 and primed for the year's biggest showdown in midtown on Sunday)
3. Holy Cross (9-2, will take on Xaverian and Bishop Loughlin this week)
4. Lincoln (8-2, Coney Island's finest are in trouble now with losses in Ohio and Georgia)
5. Bishop Loughlin (6-3 after going 2-1 at the Tampa Bay Classic two weeks ago)
6. Christ the King (6-2 after a big, big victory over Rice on Friday)
7. Henninger (Syracuse)
8. Cleveland (Buffalo)
9. Boys & Girls (Brooklyn, 7-4 and somehow still hanging on here despite three losses in last four games)
10. Peekskill (Section 1 and Syracuse fans agree: Mookie Jones is the man)
Christ the King Fries Rice
Last week's Game of the Week produced a shocker: undefeated Rice is now 10-1 after a 65-61 loss to Christ the King in Middle Village.
George Mason-bound Ryan Pearson led the way with 31 points for the Royals in the win, the seventh of the season for the Queens school. Erving Walker added 13 points in a game that Christ the King led by as many as 12 points at one juncture.
The Raiders led 14-13 after the first quarter, but Roland Brown put Christ the King on top for the first time with 7:10 left in the second on a drive down the middle for a 15-14 advantage. Pearson followed with a lay-up and forced a Rice timeout. suddenly, the Raiders looked vulnerable.
Christ the King poured it on and took a 31-21 lead heading into the half. Tony Turkovic put the Royals ahead, 49-37, in the third quarter, the largest lead of the game, and Marion Smith drilled a pair of late free throws to ice the win.
Chris Fouch led Rice with 21 points. You can bet the Raiders will be hungry to bounce back this week against St. Raymond and St. Benedict's.
Lincoln Logs Some Losses
Hello? Lance Stephenson? The highly-touted Railsplitters, with two straight PSAL titles, are ranked No. 92 in the nation after they lost 57-55 to No. 21 Moeller (Cincinnati) in the semifinals of the Bojangles High School Shootout in Marvin, N.C. on Dec. 28. Michael Davenport had 24 points and 12 rebounds for Moeller, who by the way, went from un-ranked to No. 11 nationally in the USA Today poll.
Lincoln takes on Canarsie (5-4) next, a Brooklyn team that is averaging 16 points-per-game less than Abe Lincoln. Another tough one after that when Jefferson travels to Astroland for some revenge - the Orange Wave lost to Lincoln 79-72 on Dec. 4, so you can bet this game's been circled on the calendar for awhile now.
Nothing new here: Jane Addams soph Kevin White continues to lead the PSAL in scoring with 310 points through 10 games. Alex Garcia, of Norman Thomas, is No. 2 with 239 points, and Antoine Gattling, of Eagle Academy, is third with 235 points. Lance Stephenson is No. 80, by the way, with 132 points.
Upcoming on MSG
Boys & Girls of Brooklyn will face Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, NJ) at the historic Asbury Park Convention Center on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m., and the game will be televised the following day on MSG at 9 a.m. -- so set your TiVO or DVR, if you can't wake up that early, like me.
Nike Super 6 Invite at the Garden
I am pumped for this, the 2008 Nike Super 6 Invitational, and you can still get tickets this week online at www.thegarden.com. I think it will run you about $15-20 bucks for three games at Madison Square Garden. Paterson Catholic faces Mount Vernon at 11 a.m. before St. Raymond tackles St. Patrick from Newark around 12:30 p.m. Then you can buy an overpriced hot dog and sit back for the finale: Harlem's Rice vs. No. 1 St. Benedict's Prep at 2:30 p.m. MaxPreps will be there and you'll be able to check out photos, game stories and video highlights next week. A, C, E, 1, 2 and 3 subways to Penn Station folks, and get there early.
Danny Wild is a writer and photographer for MaxPreps and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org