St. Patrick, St. Ray's Do Battle

FORT MYERS, Fla. – St. Raymond's held a 12-point lead entering the fourth quarter against St. Patrick. They would go 14 straight possessions without scoring as St. Patrick finally drew blood and won in overtime in what was another City of Palms instant classic.

St. Patrick Guts Out Overtime Win

With 2,300 people in the gym hoping to see Friday night's magic duplicated, St. Raymond's and St. Patrick waged war for 36 minutes. It took an extra session for the Celtics to finally nip the Ravens 70-67.

Daon Merritt was fired up. So were Louis McCroskey and Gavin Grant. St. Patrick guard Jason Patterson couldn't control his emotions and was slapped with a technical in the first quarter. Just minutes later, Celtics forward Robert Hines got the "T" as well.

Game on.

St. Raymond's rushed out to an 18-12 first quarter lead. At the half they led 34-26 and seemingly had things in order. Only a St. Patrick zone slowed the juggernaut and kept the Celtics within striking distance. With a 55-43 lead to start the fourth quarter, Oliver Antigua's squad seemingly had it locked up. And then the drought began.

St. Ray's went 14 straight possessions in the fourth quarter without scoring. Not a bucket or a free throw. Nothing. Zip. Shutout. Meanwhile, Jason Patterson was heating up. He drilled 3 fourth quarter 3-pointers. When he wasn't draining shots, freshman sensation Derrick Caracter was collecting rebounds. The most impressive of which came in traffic with four Ravens draped all over him.

St. Raymond's finally relinquished the lead when Patterson tied the game at 55 with a 3-pointer. The Celtics would forge ahead and take a 3-point lead. They appeared to have things in hand but Michael Nardi dribbled a ball off his foot with 14 seconds remaining. 58-55 St. Patrick, but the Ravens had the ball.

Lacking a true 3-point sniper, the Ravens went into scramble mode and Tariq Atkins picked up the ball, headed for the corner and sank what appeared to be the game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. It was St. Raymond's first hoop of the quarter and it couldn't have come at a more opportune time. But, the officials huddled and put two seconds on the clock as St. Patrick called timeout. The Celtics did not get a shot off and we headed for overtime.

The next four minutes remained close but in the end, the No. 4 ranked Celtics held on for the win.

Caracter pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, most of them coming in the fourth quarter. He scored 15 points. Patterson finished with 21, including 5 3-pointers.

Four Ravens scored in double-figures and two posted double-doubles. McCroskey had 21 and 11 and scored 5 points in the overtime session. Atkins had 11 and 11. Junior Brian Lang had a rough shooting night but was huge on the glass with 9 boards. Daon Merritt finished with 12 points.

St. Patrick advances to the championship game of a tournament they've never won. They've played for the Classic title three times and now Rice stands in their way.

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