Stepinac Defeats St. Raymond’s 68-51 in Quarterfinals of Intersectional Championships

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What a difference two weeks makes. Two Sundays ago the Stepinac Crusaders were upset in the first round of the C.H.S.A.A. Playoffs – New York Sectional Quarterfinals to St. Peter’s and this past Sunday they defeated St. Raymond’s 68-51 in the quarterfinals of CHSAA Intersectional Playoffs played at Fordham University.

The Crusaders got off to an ugly start versus the St. Raymond’s Ravens falling behind 10-20 after the first quarter. During the first quarter of play they made only four of 14 shots from the floor and they turned the ball over four times. The Ravens were successful defending the Crusaders offense by using a two-three-zone press.

In the second quarter things began to change for the Crusaders when they decided to attack the Ravens’ zone defense and they were able to score more. Early in the quarter senior guard Josh James nailed his third 3-pointer of the game and achieved the unique status of scoring 1000 points in his high school career.

With each passing minute of the second quarter the Crusaders got more confident on offense and their pressure on defense caused the Ravens to turn the ball over seven times. The Crusaders had their best quarter of the season shooting 3-pointers knocking down four 3-pointers. Senior James Decker’s 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining gave the Crusaders’ their second lead of the game and they would never relinquish it for the rest of the game.

At halftime the Crusaders had a 33-28 advantage. In the closing minutes of the half Andrew Murray and Naim Thomas scored important baskets for the Crusaders. During the second quarter of play they made six of the nine shots they took as a team.

The Ravens did their best to try to get back into this game during the second half of play. At one moment in the third quarter they were able to get within one point of the Crusaders but it wasn’t meant to be. Senior Danny Hoffer came off the bench and scored a quick five points for his team and the Crusader were up 47-39 with one quarter to play.

In the fourth quarter the closest the Ravens got to the Crusaders was eight points and that was the ball game.

James led the Crusaders with 22 points and 10 rebounds on Sunday. Thomas scored 18 points versus the Ravens.

It was a fine performance for the Crusaders who will take on Bishop Loughlin on Thursday evening in the semifinals. Christ the King will take on Cardinal Hayes in the other semifinal.

This was a great comeback win for the Crusaders after the St. Peter’s loss two weeks earlier.

“We knew that we had to learn from that lost, but there was still more basketball to play for us. When you com into intersectional we had to play hard and if you lose you’re out so we didn’t want to go home,” said James about the St. Peter’s loss the St. Raymond’s win.

James after the games also reflected on reaching the 1000-point plateau.

“It feels great, another accomplishment that I worked for and I’m glad I got it and I just want to keep playing now,” said James.

Getting to intersectional semifinals is a very exciting for the Crusaders.

“It’s a dream come true to make to be able to get to the semifinal in this big time tournament and in this big time league,” said Thomas. “We’re happy to be here but we’re not going to stop working.”

Crusaders head coach Tim Philp after the game talked about how he is still stressing the importance of team defense as being the key to his team success this season.

“That has been our staple all year,” said Philp. “Good defense usually leads into good offense.”

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