TOC Game Report: Lynchburg Hoops vs. NY Ravens

In a battle of teams with contrasting styles, the athletic and high-octane New York Ravens ventured into the Wilson Recreation Center on the campus of Duke University to take on the underrated Lynchburg Hoops out of Virginia.

The Ravens, led by N.C. State target Gavin Grant, Brian Laing, and Rikky Torres breezed to an opening night victory against Team Rise and Shine out of Mississippi. Lynchburg led by the charismatic underclassman Jose Garcia struggled the opening night with their star in foul trouble.

With the opening tip, the Ravens immediately went to work led by Mr. Grant. The wiry wing forward out of the Bronx steals the opening tip and takes it all the way to the hoop for the score. Following a Grant 3-pointer and Lang fadeaway in the lane, the Ravens are out to a 7-0 lead and their press is giving Lynchburg fits.

The underrated Peter Thomas gets Lynchburg in the scoring column with a 3-pointer and stick-back in the lane. Garcia is off early with his shot, but is hitting the boards hard, making plays, and leading his team. That doesn't stop Brian Laing from controlling the paint as usual. The 6-foot-4 junior is an undersized Power Forward who likes to do his best P.J. Tucker impersonation. With the full court press still giving the Hoops trouble, and Gavin Grant running the team from the Point Forward position, the Ravens jump out to a 17-13 lead at the seven minute time-out.

The game slows down following the break, as both teams began to play their styles. The Ravens keep working the glass and attacking the rim while Lynchburg tries to hold up against the frenetic pace that the New York-based team attempts to set. After an exchange in baskets between Garcia and Laing, Grant again steps up with a big 3-pointer to give his Ravens a 35-24 lead at the end of the first half. Grant's clearly the star of the half, as he enters the break with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block. Garcia again struggles out the gate, posting 4 points (1-4 shooting) and 2 rebounds.

At the beginning of the second half, Brian Laing comes out going to work. He controls the paint, scoring out of the post over bigger guys and finishing steals on the break. St. Raymond's Coach Oliver Antigua labels Laing a "beast... Big East/A-10 guy all the way." Following another Laing breakaway slam, the Ravens are running away with the game, leading 54-36 and the Hoops are again on their heels.

An unlikely hero begins to step up for Lynchburg, as Covington (TN) Junior Donnel Maben starts to take over from behind the arc. He hits a jumper from the left wing, then comes down and drains another three from the top of the key. Following a spot-up 3 off a Garcia assist, Maben has erupted for 9 quick points and the Hoops are back in it at 62-54 with 4 minutes remaining.

The flustered Ravens take a timeout and regroup. Laing and Grant take over on both ends, and with Garcia still struggling to score, the Hoops are back in trouble. Laing hits a 3-pointer from the wing and ends the game by mercy rule 75-54.

Grant finishes with 17 points and 4 rebounds on 5-13 shooting. Garcia ended the game with only 5 points on 1-6 shooting. Both guys are terrific players, but the elder Grant got the best of Jose on this day.

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