WHEELING - Icing on the cake, might be the best way to describe Coach Oliver Antigua's sentiments after his St. Raymond (NY) Ravens defeated Paul VI, from Fairfax, Va., 68-61, on Saturday afternoon in the Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit University's Alma Grace McDonough Center.
''We've had a fantastic time," Antigua said. ''It's our first visit and I told Doc (Gregory) Merrick that whenever he wants us here, we are willing to come."
The pleased coach of the visitors from Brooklyn also was ecstatic about the play of his 9-4 record team against the highly-regarded Panthers.
''This was a signature win for us because Paul VI was nationally ranked and we really had to play well to beat them."
Balance on offense was one of keys for the Ravens. St. Raymond's scoring totals found had five players in double figures, led by the remarkable Temple University recruit Daniel Dingle. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Dingle dropped in 21 points, collected 15 rebounds and also showed off his passing ability by handing out four assists.
Nkereuwehm Okoro, another senior standout who is committed to Iowa State, tossed in 12 points, eight of which came during crunch time in the second half.
Sophomore standout Kayvon Williams, another future Division I prospect according to his coach, hit on six of eight shots from the floor on the way to scoring 14 points. Also in double figures for the winners were Lawrence Graves (11) and Shane Rector (10 points). Graves also had three assists. Both of his triples came late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to keep the Ravens close..
St. Raymond, 5-0 in games played against their state rivals in New York, are starting to get their act together and Saturday's victory was a big step in the right direction.
''Three of our four losses have come against nationally-ranked teams and we have beaten the top ranked team in Kentucky (Trinity)," Antigua said.
''I believe playing the kind of top-notch competition we have been going against will make us a stronger team when we go back home and get into our league schedule.
Paul VI, now 12-2 this season, also brought a couple pf DI performers to Wheeling in 6-1 senior guard Patrick Holloway, headed to George Mason University, along with 6-10 junior Tim Higgins who gave an early commitment to Cornell.
Holloway, despite struggling from the floor as he hit just five of 18 shots, scored 16 points as did Coleman Johnson, 6-6 senior forward.
Trailing 15-11 after the opening quarter, Dingle scored eight points in the second period as St. Raymond edged in front 32-31 at the half. It remained a one-point Ravens lead at 49-48 as Graves closed the third quarter with a triple from the left wing at the buzzer.
Johnson put the Panthers back in front for a couple of seconds but Graves connected on his second straight three to erase that slim deficit. Following ties at 52, 54, 56 and 58, Dingle found Williams open for a layup to give St. Raymond the lead to stay with just over three minutes remaining.
With the score at 63-59 after Okoro's neat move inside and a Graves free throw at the 1:22 mark, Holloway rimmed out a three-point attempt at the other end.
Rector then went to the foul line and hit a pair extending the lead to a half-dozen points to salt the game away.
''The foul line was another big key for us," Antigua said. ''We were 21 of 29, while they had a couple of misses in the fourth quarter."
The Panthers made 13 of their 21 free throws and also struggled from behind the arc, cashing just two of their 14 attempts.