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Sizzling Rice cooks Molloy in quarters

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There is a shooting drill Mo Hicks puts his Rice boys’ basketball team through at the end of practice. They line up along the perimeter taking jump shots. If they miss more than they make, the Raiders run wind sprints.

“Lately,” senior guard Durand Scott said, “we’ve been winning that battle.”

It showed Friday evening. Rice made 15 three-pointers and notched a season-high in points en route to a 96-64 blowout of Archbishop Molloy in a CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinal at Christ the King in Middle Village.

The Harlem school takes on All Hallows, 45-38 upset winners over Xaverian in the first quarterfinal, in next Wednesday’s semifinals. Christ the King and Bishop Loughlin play in the nightcap.

“We’re ready,” senior James Stukes said. “We want it bad.”

The Miami-bound Scott led five Raiders in double figures with 25 points and added seven assists. Jermaine Sanders followed with 18 and three steals, Scott Arias had 15 points — all on three-pointers in the first half — Kadeeem Jack notched 14 points and 12 rebounds and Stukes scored 13.

“They have everything you would want to have on a high school team,” said Molloy senior Russ Smith, who scored 26 points in his finale.

Rice’s weapons were on display in a dizzying offensive onslaught. It out-scored Molloy 55-34 in the middle two quarters, turning an even game into a walk. The Raiders had three players — Scott, Jack and Arias — in double figures in the first half. They combined to hit eight three-pointers.

Rice (21-3) started the third quarter on fire, ripping off a 14-2 run. The 6-foot-8 Jack threw down an impressive alley-oop slam, Scott completed a three-point play with a pretty left-handed scoop in the lane and Jonathan Williams sank a three-pointer.

“We have the ability to play at that level,” Coach Mo Hicks said. “We have all the tools, especially when we get Kadeem Jack to play at the level he played at today.”

Said Stukes: “I can say it was easy. … Kadeem opens up the game for everybody else.”

The Stanners (15-11), meanwhile, had no answer for Rice — on either end of the court. Even Smith, the league’s leading scorer, had a tough time finding his points.

“I can’t be mad at the guys — they played hard,” he said.

After getting off to such a hot start, winning 11 of its first 12, Rice slogged through the middle-to-end of the year. They were tripped up by St. Raymond’s and Xaverian and trailed the Ravens by nine points entering the fourth quarter of the New York Archdiocesan championship last Saturday. The Raiders rallied to victory then and picked up where they left off on Friday.

“It shows that we are a team that can play through adversity,” Hicks said. “Since then, they’ve been real close knit. This is a great time to have that.”

Said Scott: “It’s not just three guys, it’s not just five guys — it’s all 15 guys on the bench. We’re a complete team.”

Scott, the veteran who has lost in the semifinals the last two years, wasn’t content with Rice’s performance. He wasn’t pleased to see Molloy finish the first half with 40 points. The Raiders’ staple — defense — isn’t where it should be.

“When we get that,” he said, “it’s gonna be trouble.”

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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