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Half Hollow Hills East can’t keep up with taller St. Raymond’s

Savion Lewis #3 of Half Hollow Hills East

Savion Lewis #3 of Half Hollow Hills East drives to the net during a non-league varsity boys basketball game against St. Raymond (Bronx) in the Gary Charles Hoop Classic at Adelphi University on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. St. Raymond defeated Hills East by a score of 82-72. Credit: James Escher

When Savion Lewis split two defenders with a slick dribble and pulled up for a buzzer-beating three-pointer to close out the first half, Half Hollow Hills East took a one-point lead. But the shot, despite its artistry, degree of difficulty and timeliness, did not give the Thunderbirds a lift.

In fact, it was their last lead of the game.

St. Raymond’s of the Bronx made 23 of 33 field-goal attempts in the second half and utilized its height advantage to defeat Hills East, 82-72, on Sunday night in the fifth game of the six-game Gary Charles Hoop Classic at Adelphi.

“I thought Savion’s shot would be a momentum- builder,” Thunderbirds coach Peter Basel said. “But they started the third quarter fast and I thought our intensity was a little flat.”

The Ravens (5-4) opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run to build a 42-35 lead. Hills East got to within 49-46 on Julien Crittendon’s three from the wing with 2:08 left in the third, but St. Ray’s scored the last six points of the quarter.

Hills East (7-2) made one more run, a 7-0 burst early in the fourth quarter that trimmed the deficit to 59-55, but after that, it was all St. Ray’s. The Ravens made 12 of 14 shots in the fourth quarter, most of them easy layups in transition as they handled Hills East’s press and dominated the boards.

“We tried switching defenses, but we were a half-step slow,” Basel said. “They freeze you off the dribble and get into the lane to get shots to the rim.”

Lewis scored 28 points, Crittendon netted 21 and Kendall Nero-Clark added 14. That was offset by the Ravens’ entire starting five scoring in double figures. Gary Grant scored 14 of his 22 in the second half and Omar Silverio had 15 of his 19 after the break. Darius Lee muscled inside for his 16 points.

“We’re not tall and we have to have all five of our players crash the boards,” Basel said. “We struggle when our guards don’t block out, and it’s something we’ve talked about all year.”

The closest the Thunderbirds got in the fourth quarter was 67-61 on Crittendon’s put-back with 2:12 left. But Jalen Reneau (13 points) scored on a breakaway layup and Grant had a breakaway reverse dunk and a putback as the Ravens pulled away in the final two minutes.

“Give them credit,” Basel said. “They moved the ball well.”

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