NEW YORK -- In the battle of New York City vs. Jersey City, the Big Apple came out on top.
In the first game of the SNY Invitational at City College of New York on Friday night, St. Raymond took out St. Anthony's, 64-63, in dramatic fashion to advance to Saturday's championship game (SNY). The Ravens (11-7) will face the Christ the King-Mount Vernon winner in the final. The Friars (11-3) will meet the loser in the consolation game at 2 p.m.
Minnesota-bound point guard Isaiah Washington, who recently inspired Carmelo Anthony to come watch him play, scored seven of his game-high 23 points in the final period, when the Ravens outscored the Friars 17-11. Junior forward Darius Lee went for 18 points and nine rebounds, coming up huge down the stretch with six points in the final stanza.
"It was a great win for our guys today, a great win for the program," said Ravens coach Jorge Lopez, whose team rebounded from an 86-75 beatdown against Catholic League rival Archbishop Molloy on Wednesday. "Now let's finish it off with a championship."
St. Raymond is seeking its first SNY Invitational championship, while Bob Hurley and the Friars were looking for their third title after winning in 2011 and 2013. No school has won the event three times. Cardozo is not playing in this year's event after winning the last two years.
St. Anthony's appeared like they might contend for their third title when they led 58-52 in the final minutes, but the Ravens closed the game on a 12-5 run.
The 6-foot-3 Lee was relentless down low, scoring six straight points, including a putback that put St. Raymond up 60-58.
"Isaiah and Omar wasn't playing that good, so I felt like I had to step up," Lee said.
Said Washington: "He finally stepped up. I know he was capable of doing it and he finally showed up today."
After Howard-bound guard R.J. Cole (team-high 17 points) hit a floater to tie the game at 60 with 1:08 remaining, Ravens junior guard Omar Silverio hit the biggest shot of the game, a short jumper from the right side to put St. Raymond up 62-60.
After St. Anthony's turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation, Washington hit two free throws to extend the lead to 64-60.
Brandon Redondo hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Friars for the final points of the game.
The Ravens seized a 30-24 halftime lead behind eight points from Lee and six from Washington. St. Ray's shot 4-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half.
But St. Anthony's heated up in the third quarter, outscoring the Ravens 28-17 to seize a 52-47 edge. Sophomore Alexander Rice, the son of Monmouth coach King Rice, and Cole got hot, combining for 18 points and shot 4-for-6 from deep in the period.
In the end, St. Raymond's was tougher down the stretch.
"That was a big win for me and my team," Washington said. "St. Anthony's, I think they was No. 2 in the Tri-State area right now, so us beating them we'll move up in the rankings. We are going to have a lot more confidence in ourselves, we can play anybody who steps on the floor with us."
St. Anthony's, the reigning New Jersey Tournament of Champions winner, has now lost three of their last five games since seeing their 41-game winning streak come to an end against New Jersey rival The Patrick School earlier this month at the Dan Finn Classic in Jersey City. Two days later, they lost their second straight game to Alabama-bound shooting guard John Petty and Jemison (AL) at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
They have won 28 state titles and 13 Tournament of Champions crowns under the Naismith Hall of Famer Hurley, but will have their work cut out for them with teams like Hudson Catholic and The Patrick School in the Non-Public B bracket in New Jersey.
On this night, the New York City team was too much for the Jersey City team.
"It's amazing," Lopez said. "I think up to this point, that's probably as a coach my best win, to go up against a Hall of Fame coach, I'll take that any night."