CHESTER, Pa. – St. Thomas More’s boys basketball team did not have much time between games on Thursday night and Friday at noon, and coach Cheston Boyd was concerned about how it would affect his team. On top of that, they had given up a late lead and suffered a heartbreaking two-point loss on Thursday.
Well, the Ravens answered their coach on both fronts. They had the legs to play with a lot of energy in their second game in 18 hours, and they overcame an eight-point deficit to defeat Coatesville (Pa.) in the 12th annual Pete and Jameer Nelson Classic on the campus of Widener University.
“We had a quick turnaround from last night, so I was a little concerned about our legs. But my players responded,” Boyd said.
The Ravens trailed, 31-29, in the third when a personal foul and technical foul on St. Thomas More resulted in four made free throws by the Red Raiders’ Jhamir Brickus. Tione Holmes added two more from the line, and it was 37-29 with 1:50 to go in the quarter.
St. Thomas More cut that lead in half by the time the third ended, and they went to work in the fourth to make sure they left Pennsylvania with a win. Boyd went to a pressing defense, which the team had not employed until that point, and it paid dividends. A pair of layups in transition, the second of which came from Greg Bloodsworth after a steal by Chester native Eric Montanez, leveled the score at 37.
“We hadn’t shown our press. That was my fault. We didn’t press early because I was worried about the turnaround. But these guys stepped up, did what I asked them to do and got the win, which is most important,” Boyd said.
With the teams tied at 39, Montanez pilfered another Coatesville pass and took it the other way for a slam dunk to give the Ravens the lead. Elias Revelle got into the act after that, getting open underneath, taking a feed from Montanez and jamming one home to make it 43-39 with 4:54 to go.
But the Red Raiders would not go away. Brickus tied the game with a finger roll, but Alvin West restored the lead for St. Thomas More. Coatesville had a chance to tie it from the free-throw line, but a missed free throw kept the Ravens up by a point at 45-44. They were perfect on six attempts from the free-throw line in the last minute and a half to seal the win.
Boyd said each game is a learning experience, including Thursday’s 52-50 loss to Archbishop Ryan (Pa.).
“What we learned from last night is we need to finish games, he said. “We had the opportunity to win it last night. We didn’t. So I told them in the huddle (Friday) with about three minutes left is let’s not repeat last night. We’re going to get better if we don’t make the same mistakes. So they came out fighting.”
Montanez, the senior transfer who scored 11 points to lead the Ravens, was named the team’s most valuable player for the game. He was happy to play well in front of family and friends in his hometown.
“It feels good to play in front of my hometown. We lost a tough one yesterday, so I wanted to come here on the second day and get a good win,” he said.
“We just wanted it more than the other team. Wanting to get the win, that’s basically it.”
Bloodsworth and Corey Gordon each scored 10 for St. Thomas More, who improved to 4-3 against a difficult out-of-state schedule. The Ravens return home for the first time since the opening game of the season on Tuesday against Red Lion. Game time is 6:30 p.m.