The Archdiocesan Semifinal matchup between No.1 seeded St. Raymond’s and No.5 seeded Archbishop Stepinac lived up to its expectations. The Ravens were looking to advance to the Archdiocesan title game for the first time since 2016, while Last year’s champion Stepinac were looking to return as well.
The game started out heavily in the Ravens favor as they took advantage of the Crusaders sloppy Start and raced out to a 14-2 lead. the lead soon grew to 22-8 at the end of the quarter as the Ravens dominated scoring in the paint while the Crusaders struggled to get into a rhythm. In the second quarter, that quickly changed when Stepinac outscored St. Rays 19-13. Stepinac stepped up in the second quarter to make the game more competitive but still faced a 35-27 lead going into half time.
The fourth quarter would go down as one of the best finishes ever. the Ravens were up 54-44 but Stepinac would go on a 9-3 run to cut St. Rays lead to four with 4:34 left. This is where the game got interesting because In the first quarter it looked like St. Raymond’s was going to run away with it but Stepinac refused to back. Stepinac’s Rally reached a point when they briefly had the lead. With 1:20 remaining in the game, Ed Sanchez scored to give Stepinac a 64-63 lead. Sophomore Malachi Smith would quickly respond with a layup of his own to give the Ravens back the lead. The finish in this game would be a great one down 65-64, RJ Davis would hit a floater to give Stepinac a 66-65 lead. but Jalen Reneau answered with a euro-step for the layup with 15 seconds remaining then forced a charge to regain possession and sealed the victory with free throws.
The Ravens were able to run away with the 69-66 victory thanks to their execution in yesterday’s game. Now the Ravens will prepare for the Archdiocesan championship game against crosstown rival Cardinal Hayes. The last time these two teams met in the championship game was 2016 when the Cardinals defeated the Ravens.
What We Learned
Stepinac’s rally in the fourth quarter proved how they have grown since early in the season. The Crusaders have won five straight games going into last night’s contest. RJ Davis scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Davis’s fourth-quarter performance proved that Stepinac is one team no one wants to face in the city playoffs early in the season not many people would think Stepinac would make it this far. With a healthy Adrian Griffin back in the fold. It makes things more interesting as we approach the city playoffs coming soon.
During the Ravens 14 game winning streak, this team has found themselves in many close game situations where they could have lost the game, and last night was no different. Their execution proved that they are battle tested and they are aware of the challenges ahead in the city playoffs. For a team that consists of mostly sophomores and juniors, they do play a higher level of basketball.
Hayes outlasts Iona Prep
In the first semifinal game, Hayes outlasted Iona Prep 64-53. Joe Toussaint scored 20 points for Hayes while Julian Sourmaro added 19. Cardinals are will face St. Raymond’s in the championship game on Saturday at Mount St. Michael game starts at 1pm.