RALEIGH — Word of God, known by many for its high-powered offensive threats, used defense Wednesday to pull away from visiting Ravenscroft and cruise to a 57-42 win.
Ravenscroft stuck with the Holy Rams early on, leading briefly in the first quarter. The teams entered the second period tied at 15 points apiece as the Holy Rams, ranked No. 1 in The News & Observers poll of area teams, struggled to hit shots from outside early on, scoring just one basket from outside of the key in the first quarter.
Word of God was able to take control of the game in the second period, using its swarming defense to convert Ravenscroft turnovers into points in transition.
That type of defensive pressure and intensity is key for the Rams success, said Word of God coach Quentin Jackson.
We have very good athletes, and its very important that they play with all of their intelligence and ability in order for us to be successful, Jackson said. This year you have teams averaging about 40 points a game. I figure with the weapons we have, if we can hold (opponents) to that, well be OK, and the record has shown that.
Word of God (11-1) held the Ravens without a second-quarter field goal for more than five minutes, as the Rams warmed up from outside and outscored Ravenscroft 19-6 to go into the half with a 34-21 lead.
Rams standout Tyrek Coger continued to propel Word of God after the break, scoring ten of his 12 points in the third quarter, despite sustaining a gash over his eyebrow earlier in the game.
Camden Scott hit five 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 17, and Joshua Newkirk added 14 for the Rams.
Word of God kept its distance, not allowing the Ravens to pull within single digits in the second half.
This is a big rivalry and the underdog in any rivalry is going to come in playing better than what youve seen them play, Jackson said. They were aggressive and they made shots early on. ... They had a run there, but we had to limit their runs.
Ravenscroft (8-8) was on a six-game win streak headed into the game, including wins over No. 10 Green Hope and No. 11 Cardinal Gibbons.
Marcus Bryan led Ravenscroft with 14 points and Chris Corchiani added nine.
Word of God opens conference play Friday against Trinity Christian. Ravenscroft will host Charlotte Christian.