Anthony Vernon couldn’t believe what he was witnessing at the end of a Bishop Loughlin practice last Tuesday afternoon.
Standing inside the gymnasium was Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was there to speak to the team just hours prior to the all-star the nearby Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets.
Vernon has begun to apply the words of wisdom imparted by Bryant that day on the court. The 6-foot-8 inch starting center scored 14 points, had 8 rebounds and 3 blocks as Bishop Loughlin defeated St. Raymond 70-49 in a CHSAA Class AA matchup Wednesday night in the Bronx.
“What motivated me the most was Kobe coming to my school. The energy and tips he give you, you really kind of feel it,” Vernon said. “That’s my idol so when he says those words to me, I said alright he’s serious so I got to be serious no matter what.”
Khadeen Carrington scored a game high 21 points along with Mike Williams adding18 points and Jordan Nanton recorded 9 assists for Bishop Loughlin (18-5), ranked No. 4 in New York City by MSG Varsity.
The Lions have rebounded from a two-game losing streak with wins over Iona Prep Tuesday and the Ravens to finish the regular season tied for second place in the Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA with Molloy at 10-5.
Many of Vernon’s teammates have pushed the junior to make a greater impact during games. The strong center has listened and his improved performance aided a balanced attack against the Ravens and hopefully more in the near future.
“He had a good night the other night too. We’ve been getting on him,” Carrington said. “He can be a powerhouse in the league but all he got to do is take his time, go up and he’ll get easy buckets and that’s what he did tonight.”
Bishop Loughlin handed the No. 7 ranked Ravens (14-10) their sixth loss in a row with a quick response in the second quarter.
The Ravens had rebounded from an early deficit as Troy Ferguson hit a three-pointer to complete an 11-0 run to take a 23-21 lead.
Williams answered with a three-pointer with 4 minutes remaining in the half as the Lions regained the lead for good. Carrington would hit his second buzzer beating 3-point shot to put Bishop Loughlin up 38-29 at halftime.
Bishop Loughlin continued their hot shooting in the second half to outscore the Lions 13-4 to take a 51-33 lead with 2:46 remaining.
The young Ravens has through some growing pains as of late. Injuries to junior guard Kayvon Williams, who has missed the last five games with a sprained wrist and a nagging ankle sprain to point guard Jaquan McKennon also hasn’t helped the cause.
Luis Santos scored 11 points, and Ray Pender, along with Ferguson each added 10 points for St. Ray’s, who will next play in the first round of the Archdiocesan playoffs Sunday at home.
“We’ve been battling a lot of injuries. It’s been tough for us to regroup and get back into that swing,” said Ravens coach Jorge Lopez. “It shows our youth. We haven't been able to hold on to leads and battle back and win games.”
Bishop Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez has stressed the importance of winning games with the post-season approaching. The Lions will take on visiting Long Island Lutheran in Fort Greene Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“They know this is the end of the year. We have had 24 scrimmages and we have to get better each and every time out.,” Gonzalez said. “They know this is crunch time. Whether its in practice or in games, we are going to learn something from it and take it to the next game and make it better. “