And then Kadeem Jack and Rice stepped up snatched victory away.
Led by Durand Scott’s 27 points, Rice High School survived a furious late rally to hold off Christ the King 67-58 and win the CHSAA Intersectional Championship Sunday at Fordham University.
The Royals endured an off night from star guard Sean Johnson, and yet still almost came away with a title, clawing back from a 15 point deficit in the third quarter and pulling within a single point twice in the final minutes.
“They never go down easy,” said Rice coach Maurice Hicks, who won his sixth city championship. “There always has to be some drama.”
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm early on, but Johnson got the Royals going early with a 3 pointer to give Christ the King a 3-2 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter. Rice answered with a 5-0 run to take a 7-3 lead before Maurice Barrow broke the run with two free throws with 3:26 remaining. A Johnson basket with 10 seconds left in the quarter gave the Royals a 10-9 lead at the end of the first.
Issahn Davis gave Christ the King a 12-9 lead with a basket before Scott tied the game with a 3 with 7:16 left in the half¬¬¬- the start of a 9-0 Rice run. Scott pushed the Raider lead to 24-15 with a free throw with 3:49 to play. Consecutive three-pointers by Davis and a basket by Dominykas Milka pulled Christ the King to within a basket, but Richard Council added four points to give Rice a 29-22 halftime lead.
As Johnson struggled in the third quarter, the Raiders turned on the gas, extending the lead to 37-28 on a basket by Shane Southwell with 4:04 remaining. A Marion Smith three-pointer pulled the Royals back within six, but Scott and the Raiders answered with an 8-0 run, pushing the lead to 45-31. Scott added a 3 with 37 seconds remaining and the Raiders were on their way to 50-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, the Royals came to life. Led by Milka and Corey Edwards, the Royals pulled to within 52-49 with 5:15 to play. Scott answered with a basket, but Johnson added a free throw and Barrow added a basket to pull within 56-52. Then, with 2:42 remaining, Davis connected on a three pointer to pull the Royals within a single point, 56-55. However, Scott Arias answered at the other end with a three, pushing the Raider lead back to four with 1:31 remaining.
Edwards’ three pulled the Royals back within a point, but Kadeem Jack responded with a layup at the other end. The Royals missed a three, and from there Rice just had to hit free throws.
The Royals, defeated for the second time by Rice this season, were led in scoring by Davis’ 16. Sean Johnson added 15, and Corey Edwards scored 10.
Rice will play the PSAL champion on March 28th.