Word of God had enough in the tank to step it into second gear in the fourth quarter versus Ravenscroft School.
The Holy Rams outscored the Ravens 25-13 in the final frame, leaving North Raleigh with a 77-68 win. The Ravens built a big first-quarter lead but couldn’t hold off a surge from the Holy Rams, who got hotter as the game went on.
Once Word of God saw a couple go through, there was nothing the Ravens could do. The Rams got their mojo going early in the fourth quarter when Evan Johnson knocked down a three while being fouled. Moments later, Mikeil Watkins converted an old-fashioned three-point play to push the lead to five.
Ravenscroft would tie the game at 58 on a triple from Andrew Ejotar, but Word of God would outscore their host 19-10 the rest of the way.
Word of God 6-foot-9 center Brandon Huffman didn’t see many minutes in the first half and went scoreless. Since Ravenscroft started five guards and Clifton prefers a man-to-man defense, there wasn’t much Huffman could do defensively for the Holy Rams. In the second half, Clifton went to a 2-3 zone, allowing Huffman to stay on the floor. He only finished with two points but collected all seven of his rebounds in the second half, and protected the rim for Word of God.
“That messed me up, because he is a good player and I want him on the court,” Clifton said. “It (going in the 2-3) was a great adjustment that we made, and it allowed us to get Brandon on the court and it got us back to ourselves.”
They said it
“Our schedule has been absolutely brutal. I think we’ve been on a plane six times this year. We haven’t had an opportunity to get easy wins to build our confidence.” – Clifton
Three who mattered
Tyler Williams, Ravenscroft: Williams led the Ravens with 16 points and added six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Mikeil Watkins, Word of God: Watkins finished with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, playing a well-rounded game as the Holy Rams floor leader.
Evan Johnson, Word of God: Johnson’s outside shooting was clutch for the Holy Rams. Johnson knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to 16 points.
By the numbers
9 Number of 3-pointers hit by the Holy Rams.
13 Number of assists by Word of God
6 Assists by Word of God guard Jalen Harris, a game high.
10 Number of points and rebounds for Ravenscroft junior forward Ian Dubose, the only player to record a double-double.
14 Points from Holy Rams’ guard Jaylen Fornes.
Out of bounds
N.C. State basketball coach Mark Gottfried and assistant Orlando Early were seated not too far behind the Word of God bench. Gottfried has his eye on five-star recruit Rawle Alkins, who is in his first year with the Holy Rams. However, Alkins never got off the bench versus Ravenscroft.
Clifton explained that Alkins, one of the top targets in the nation, has been taking a lot of visits recently, and doing a lot to prepare for college. Clifton said the staff is trying to give Alkins the space to take care of his future plans, but no practice also means no minutes.
“In fairness to the guys who are there, we’ve got to give them an opportunity to show they can play,” Clifton said. “Rawle is going to be fine. He’s a huge part of what we do. We’re not nearing the team without him than we are with him.”