Rayford carries Mighty Hoppers to victory over St. Anselm’s

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Georgetown Day's Jordan Rayford scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a win over St. Anselm's Abbey. (Hannah Wagner/The Current/January 2018)

In just his first season of varsity basketball, Georgetown Day’s Jordan Rayford is quickly making a name for himself.

The freshman continued to make his DC presence known in a home contest with St. Anselm’s Abbey on Jan. 19 by scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 67-54 victory over the Panthers. Rayford scored 16 of the Mighty Hoppers’ 38 second-half points and practically carried his team down the stretch with 10 points in the fourth quarter alone.

“It was good to get a win,” Rayford said. “We have had a couple of tough losses over our last few conference games. This was an out-of-conference game and we expect to win those games.”

It became obvious in the early going that Georgetown Day wanted to meet those expectations. The Hoppers went up 10-4 on a three-pointer from Daniel Koenig and pushed their lead to 17-6 with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter.

St. Anselm’s attempted to put some pressure on Georgetown Day with a full-court, man-to-man press, however the Hoppers handled it with ease and only coughed up one turnover late in the quarter.

“We knew (they would press) coming in. We actually scrimmaged this team in November,” said Georgetown Day head coach Ray Milburn. “I think we probably had 25 turnovers against them.

“Tonight I thought we handled the pressure well. It was all about spacing and being able to beat that first trap. We were a little sloppy on offense, but overall I thought we did a good job.”

Sloppy play and missed shots hindered both teams in the second quarter as neither team scored for the first three minutes. A bucket from Georgetown Day’s Austin Collins finally got his team off the schnide, while the Panthers did not record their first points until Jimi Olopade scored on a driving layup at the 3:36 mark. Two late shots by Kyle Whitlock got St. Anselm’s within six (29-23) as the half came to a close.

The Hoppers jumped out a bit at the start of the third, but the Panthers went on a run of their own and kept the score close throughout the frame. Then, a driving layup by Xavier Preston as the quarter came to a close brought St. Anselm’s within four (42-38) heading into the final period.

That was when Rayford took over. Milburn called for a high screen for Rayford on many occasions, which allowed the lanky freshman to get into the paint and pull up for makeable 10-foot jumpers. Rayford made four of the team’s five buckets in the quarter, and with the help of other teammates, put the Panthers away by converting on 15-of-18 free throws.

“It has been a good experience so far,” the 6-foot-4 point guard said about his first half-season of varsity basketball. “I haven’t played against people who are four years older than me and are a lot stronger. But it has been a good learning experience and I think I am getting a lot better.”

Rayford received help from senior Jacob Boles (12 points) and junior Dennis Kongoli (11 points).

Whitlock’s 14 points paced St. Anselm’s. Michael Gerrity (13 points), Carlo Pizzano (13 points) and Olopade (11 points) also scored in double figures.

The win moves Georgetown Day to 7-8 on the season and Milburn said the victory will help his team as it moves forward.

“(St. Anselm’s) was 10-1 coming into tonight and it was a decent team that got them,” Milburn said. “So this is definitely a confidence-builder. It was a non-conference game for us, but it helps us and maybe we can go into the conference and get somebody.”