Word of God defeats Ravenscroft

Wall, Kelly, others please big crowd

Staff WriterFebruary 5, 2009 

— John Wall and Word of God ran the floor.

In a high-speed, high-flying basketball game, Word of God pleased a packed Finley Center, handing host Ravenscroft an 82-64 loss Wednesday.

A large crowd gathered to see Wall, a 6-foot-4 point guard considered one of the top seniors in the nation, and at least four other Division I recruits.

Ravenscroft beefed up security and turned away hundreds at the door once the 1,200 capacity was reached. It was a different atmosphere than when the teams met at Word of God on Jan. 7, when Ravenscroft won 68-59.

"We didn't really try to use the last game as a way to pump ourselves up," Holy Rams coach Levi Beckwith said. "It just so happens that the last game was a game that we didn't quite look like ourselves."

Word of God (16-6) has won nine in a row since losing to Ravenscroft.

In addition to Wall, there were junior forward C.J. Leslie, an N.C. State recruit, and sophomore guard Bishop Daniels, who also has recruiters' attention.

Ravenscroft forward Ryan Kelly (29 points) has committed to Duke, and center Matt Wilson to UNC-Wilmington.

"He got me this time," Kelly said of Wall, who scored 28 points.

The two have played on the same AAU team and are friends.

Wall and Leslie had a handful of high-flying dunks and blocks that fired up the crowd and seemed to fire up Kelly and Wilson.

But Kelly said he didn't think he was trying to match Wall.

"I think we as a team got into a little bit of a running match, which isn't what we are," Kelly said. "We probably should have done a better job, especially in that first half, of slowing it down."

Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman agreed and said Word of God controlled the tempo this time, and that was likely his team's undoing.

"We were getting a lot of open shots, and we didn't convert," he said. "And when you take jump shots against them, all of the sudden John is laying it in down on the other end. Our two best defenders are [Kelly and Wilson], and for them to sprint back at the same time John [Wall] was, was difficult."

Word of God took an early lead, but Ravenscroft was down only 21-17 at the end of the first quarter.

The Ravens were helped by a two 3-pointers in the first half by junior guard Luke Davis.

Leslie and Wall accounted for 18 of the Holy Rams' 22 second-quarter points as Ravenscroft continued to struggle. Word of God led 43-30 at halftime.

"When we were pushing, their backs were turned, and we were scoring and getting fouled," Wall said.

Leslie finished with 19 points, while Daniels added 21 points for Word of God.

For Ravenscroft, Wilson had 11 points and Davis finished with eight.

Kelly was asked about the prospect of being joined at Duke by Wall, who is still undecided.

"I try just be a friend to him," Kelly said. "I don't push anything. I let him make his decision. I know it will be what's best for him."

Word of God 82, Ravenscroft 64

javier.serna@newsobserver.com or 919-836-4953

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