High school basketball: Raven boys set sights high again

St. Thomas More came out of the seven-game, opening segment of its schedule with only four victories.

But that doesn’t mean the Ravens weren’t successful.

Indeed, coach Cheston Boyd thought his St. Thomas More boys’ basketball players learned a great deal playing against some rugged, out-of-state competition.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” said Boyd. “But we adjusted well, we played hard. The kids showed me a lot of resolve and showed me that we matured from last year.”

Now if the Ravens can improve on last year’s results as well, that would really be saying something.

St. Thomas More burst onto the scene last winter, going 17-6 and reaching the DIAA state quarterfinals for the first time.

With many of the players back from that squad, Boyd has high hopes for this year’s Ravens too. St. Thomas More is 5-3 going into a 6 p.m. home game against Christiana on Thursday.

The Ravens are 3-0 against Delaware schools. Two of their losses have come against highly-regarded St. Benedict’s Prep from N.J. and Archbishop Ryan from Pa.

Boyd said the core of this squad already proved something over the summer when they were part of the Diamond State Titans AAU program that won a Division II national tournament in Florida. Six of St. Thomas More’s players, including all five starters, were on the squad.

Cheston Boyd

Boyd said the Titans won the tourney by playing at a more-deliberate, low-turnover pace. It’s the same style he wants the Ravens to play.

“We might not have one individual guy who stands out,” said Boyd. “But I don’t believe there’s a full five that can match my five.

“Even if they have a better one-two, our three, four and five are going to be better than their three, four and five. Just looking at the state, to me it’s wide open. I feel like there’s no reason why we can’t win it.”

St. Thomas More has played well despite missing one of its biggest players — both literally and figuratively.

Center Aaron Scott, who stands 6-4, 280 pounds, played a major role for the Ravens last season when he was listed as a junior. He was a third-team All-State pick.

But Scott, who just turned 18, would need to be granted a waiver by the DIAA since this is his fifth year of school.

Scott’s initial request for the waiver — based on circumstances from the youngster’s freshman year at Smyrna — was denied. But Boyd said an appeal has been filed with the hope that Scott can still play this season.

“He is in the gym every day lifting,” said Boyd.

On the other hand, St. Thomas More did pick up transfer Eric Montanez. The senior has turned out to be one of the Ravens’ top scorers.

Partly because it plays an uneven schedule, people are never quite sure what to make of St. Thomas More until it gets to the state tournament. But that’s OK with the Ravens.

“We’re constantly doubted,” said Boyd. “It’s constantly motiving for us. Nobody thought we were going to do what we did last year.

“It makes the game fun. Instead of pressure, you’re having fun.”

Free throws

Tonight’s Smyrna-Salesianum game features a rare matchup of two genuine big men: The Eagles’ 7-foot Azubuike Nwankwo and Sallies’ 6-8, 220-pound Traiq Ingraham. Tipoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at Smyrna. … Radio station 105.9-FM is broadcasting Friday evening’s St. Mark’s-Milford boys’ game. Tipoff is slated for 6:15 p.m. … Milford is also honoring its 1989 Henlopen Conference championship team that night. … A pair of downstate girls’ teams are taking part in the Lady Wildcats MLK Showcase at Howard High on Monday. Seaford will face New York’s Benjamin Banneker at noon with St. Thomas More taking on Concord at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the entire four-game event.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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