WARWICK â€” For a team in desperate need of uplifting news, St. Raphael Academy sweated out a 42-41 non-league victory against Connecticutâ€™s New London High Saturday night at CCRI-Warwick. The contest was part of the CCRI High School Basketball Challenge.
Playing minus star point guard Charles Correa (broken right hand) and sophomore shooter Graham Lynch (sprained hand), the Saints came up with a series of big plays down the stretch en route to snagging their first victory of 2013. The deciding basket came courtesy of sophomore big man Alex Zhoa, who scored off a designed inbounds play with 20 seconds remaining. At the time SRA trailed 41-40.
Still with plenty of time to walk off the court a winner, New London placed the ball in the hands of leading scorer Keith Porter. With SRAâ€™s defense paying extra attention, Porter got off an off-balanced shot that sailed harmlessly out of bounds.
Still a few fouls away from getting in the 1-and-1 bonus, the Saints were able to run out the remaining precious seconds. The win against New London is St. Raphaelâ€™s first in three tries (the Saints fell to the Whalers, 100-73 in 2011 and 66-55 last January).
While Zhoaâ€™s heroics were the talk of the evening, the Saint who placed his team in position to strike late was Nick Mays. The senior single-handily willed St. Raphael back from a four-point deficit with two minutes remaining, scoring seven straight points before Zhoaâ€™s clutch make. Mays finished with 12 points and five rebounds. In addition he also drew the assignment of checking Porter, who led all scorers with 19 points.
SRA led by six points early before New London put on a surge right before halftime to grab a 23-20 lead. The Whalers continued to own the upper hand for much of the second half before taking their last lead with 40 ticks left.
Zhoaâ€™s double double consisted of 11 points and 13 rebounds while senior Jason Colon pulled down 11 rebounds. Even minus the scoring touch of Correa and Lynch, the Saints have done the job defensively. They allowed 52 points in a loss to La Salle last Friday night.
If all checks out accordingly, St. Raphael should have Lynch back in the lineup Monday night at Cranston East. This is a three-game week for the Saints, who host Classical on Wednesday â€“ the same Purple outfit that eliminated the Purple & Gold from the playoffs last season â€“ before traveling to East Providence on Friday.