Ravens aim to prove they can compete in boys’ hoops

St. Thomas More-Basketball-Corey Gordon (3) by .

St. Thomas More junior Corey Gordon, right, is averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. The Ravens (3-1) have already come a long way since Gordon’s freshman year when they finished just 4-15. “I think we’ve grown a lot,” said Gordon, who is from Dover. “Especially this year, we’re looking to do good things.” (Delaware State News file photo)

MAGNOLIA — Cheston Boyd admits he felt a little insulted.

His St. Thomas More boys’ basketball team was playing an upstate school last season.

Someone from the school asked the coach if St. Thomas More was located in Delaware.

For Boyd, that kind of thing is just one more reason the Ravens want people to remember who they are.

“That’s kind of been our driving motivation this year,” said Boyd, who is in his third season as the program’s coach. “If you ask these guys, they want to do it for their school.

“You’ve got the local schools around that won’t even play us. We want to prove a point that we deserve to be on the court with the Dovers, the CRs and the Polys.”

The way things are going, it’s going to be difficult to look past St. Thomas More much longer.

The Ravens are 3-1 going into today’s 7 p.m. home game against Sussex Central (1-2). St. Thomas More started the season by losing just 75-71 to Hodgson, which usually has one of the better teams in the state.

Since then, the Ravens have posted comfortable double-digit victories over both Brandywine and Caravel. And that comes following last year when they finished 9-11 after winning five of their final seven games.

That’s not too shabby for a program that went a combined 21-94 in its previous six seasons.

The 32-year-old Boyd, who is also director of admissions for the small Catholic school in Magnolia, said St. Thomas More is trying to get more serious about athletics.

“We kind of wanted to model after a Sanford or some of those schools,” said Boyd. “Be small but we can also be good and be powerful at the same time. It was by design. We really just focused on requiring more.

“We already required a lot from the kids in the classroom. We’ve just brought the expecations to the courts and the fields.”

Boyd estimates that about 90 percent of the players on the squad come from Kent County. One of the newcomers who has made a difference is 6-foot-4 junior Aaron Scott.

After sitting out last season, the Smyrna resident is averaging a team-leading 21 points and nine rebounds per game.

“We’ve got a lot of team chemistry right now,” said Scott. “We’re confident in each other. (Last year) everything was so new. We didn’t usually play with each other. Since everyone was returning, we feel a little more comfortable with everyone. I knew we were going to be good this year.

“Pretty much our goal is what everybody’s goal is — making it to states. That’s what we’re trying to do. We try to practice hard every day, go hard every game and take one step at a time.”

After Scott, junior Zion Cole (14 points), junior Corey Gordon (10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists per game) and sophomore Greg Bloodsworth (10 points) are all scoring in double figures.

The Ravens have already come a long way since Gordon’s freshman year when they finished just 4-15.

“I think we’ve grown a lot,” said Gordon, who is from Dover. “Especially this year, we’re looking to do good things.

“I talk to people all the time that ask me where my school is. This basketball season we’re trying to change that. It’s a big motivation for us. We’re looking to put our name on the map and show that St. Thomas More has other stuff than just academics.”

“We have a good group of teammates,” he added. “They’re really pushing each other.”

St. Thomas More, which hosts Philadelphia’s Parkway Center City on Friday night, has plenty of difficult games in front of it.

The Ravens, who aren’t in a league after the school left the Diamond State Conference, will play in a tournament at Philadelphia’s Girard College after Christmas. They also have games scheduled at Penn Wood (Pa.) and Malvern Prep (Pa.).

Boyd, who has previous coaching experience in the Washington, D.C. area, wants to challenge his players. He thinks they’re ready for it.

Not only did the Ravens win nine games last season but five of their losses came by just three points or less.

“I felt like, with another year under our belt, that can swing from nine wins to 14 or 15 wins and give us a shot to make some noise,” said Boyd.

“The kids worked extremely hard this summer. They spent hours in the gym, we played in two summer leagues, we went to two team camps.

“It’s definitely been a process. It just didn’t just happen overnight, that’s for sure.”

Despite what people think, Boyd said it’s not always easy to build a winning program at a private school.

“You’ve got the financial piece and then you’ve got the academic piece,” he said. “Our academic standards here are high. It’s not a factory where you just keep on getting them in. It’s hard to find kids who are going to get it done academically, their parents are going to foot the bill and they can play, too.

“I’ve got a bunch of kids who were just pieces here or there and just got them to believe in themselves. We like to fly under the radar. At the end of the day, people are going to know you for how you finish not how you start.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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