New York High School: Kerwin Okoro

The Catholic High Schools Athletic Association's message was heard loud and clear.

After the league advised its players to not play in Saturday's Battle for the City, which had billed as a game between the best of the Public Schools Athletic League and the CHSAA, only five Catholic league players showed up for the event. At least 20 CHSAA players had been slated early in the week to play in the game.

Instead of a strictly CHSAA team, a team constructed of CHSAA and PSAL players was thrown together, and that team fell to the PSAL All-Stars, 110-91, on Saturday at Baruch College.

THE HISTORY: The CHSAA advised its players not to play for fear of the game being unsanctioned as well as rule that says underclassmen cannot play in All-Star games unless there is a tryout. The five players who showed up were all seniors.

Event organizer, Funsport Inc. CEO Rickey Rivers, said that he talked to the NCAA about the contest and was told it did not need to be sanctioned since there would be no college coaches attending. He also said there were no problems with seniors playing in the game since they're allowed two All-Star Games.

The CEO, who at one point asked if CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens President Ray Nash was there, also disputed that an underclassmen's eligibility would be in danger if they played.

"I called the NCAA compliance office when I put together this event and went though all the things, had my checklist in order, I knew exactly what was needed to pull of this event because I've done these things several times," Rivers said. "The things they used against me were not valid points, and that was the point I think I was a little disturbed about."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The PSAL team jumped out to an early edge, leading 56-42 at halftime, and cruised to a win.

Pathways Preps junior center Jordan Washington earned MVP honors for his 22-point effort while Boys & Girls forward Leroy "Truck" Fludd had 16. Satellite Academy senior guard Stanley Cepedes led the CHSAA/PSAL team with 21 points.

"It was a lot of fun," Washington said. "There were some top players in the country and I knew I had to come out here and play ball."

ONLY FIVE FROM THE CHSAA: The five players were the CHSAA were Xaverian guard Brian Bernardi, Mount St. Michael guard Malik Gill, and St. Raymond's trio of guard Myron Hickman, and forwards Daniel Dingle and Kerwin Okoro.

Hickman, a late addition, didn't agree with the CHSAA.

"Basically I felt like what they were doing was kind of wrong, telling some of the top kids in the CHSAA they can't play," Hickman said. "I wanted to help out Rickey and I've known him for a long time and that kind of played a factor as well, and I didn't want his event to turn out not to be a good one so I came."

THE OTHER GAMES AND EVENTS: The Blue team defeated the White team, 82-56, in the "Future Game" featuring top freshman and sophomores. Boys & Girls freshman Jamie Killings scored a game-high 30 points in a win.

Okoro won the 3-point shooting contest while Fludd took home the slam dunk crown.

MOVING FORWARD: Rivers envisions this event continuing and said he would make some tweaks if he were to do it differently, including not using the league names.

"I'm very happy for how it turned out. I expected there would be a little bit of turbulence despite everything that was said and going on around it," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, it was a fun event and what I expected it to be. Fun for the kids and celebrating New York City basketball, some of the best kids on display, that's what you want to see."

Okoro & Calhoun's college teams to meet

March, 15, 2012
When St. Raymond senior forward Kerwin Okro saw the NCAA Tournament pairings, and how his future team, Iowa State, was taking on Connecticut, a New York City foe came to his mind.

"They're playing Omar's (Calhoun) team," Okoro said of the Christ the King shooting guard who is headed to the defending national champions.

Two of the top New York City recruits will have their future teams oppose each other as eighth-seeded Iowa State will face ninth-seeded Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 9:20 p.m. in Louisville, KY. Calhoun is the No. 3 prospect in New York while Okoro is ranked ninth.

"That would be a cool experience, if we were there when it happened" Okoro said. "We played each other in New York in high school and playing against people from the city in college would be something."

Both players believe it will be a great game on Thursday night. Okoro, obviously, took his Cyclones to win, mentioning how others believe Royce White could be a problem for Connecticut's defense. Calhoun said he believes UConn will do well in the tournament.

"They're both good teams," Okoro said.

The St. Raymond star said he plans to be in front of the television for the game, possibly with a bucket of popcorn, and might wear his Iowa State jumpsuit to school on Thursday. He said it's exciting to watch his future team play in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's been a while since Iowa State was in the tournament and I'm happy for the team and the coach and hope they can make this run," Okoro said. "They've had an outstanding year and I think you are seeing that the program is coming back."

Okoro earns MVP honors in St. Ray's win

March, 11, 2012

For the past three years, Kewin Okoro watched the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional final live, wanting to give himself a glimpse of what victory looked like. He watched players like Durrand Scott and Omar Calhoun earn tournament MVP honors, and digested the scene from the celebration of the title.

"Just to witness how it was to be champions," Okoro said of those trips to watch the title game in person. "Just to see (Christ the King) run and cry, that's a feeling I wanted."

Sunday afternoon, Okoro experienced what he had only seen before in the eyes and emotions of others. The senior forward won MVP honors with a 21-point, 11-rebound effort to propel St. Raymond to a 66-58 win over Holy Cross at Fordham University. The Ravens won their first title since back-to-back crowns in 2003-04 and advance to the State Federation tournament.

"I put a lot of mental preparation into this game," said Okoro, who is headed to Iowa State. "I could barely sleep last night. I woke up in the morning and said I was going to have a big game, I was going to help carry my team and that was exactly I did. When I wasn't playing too well, they took it on themselves to put them on my back."

Okoro played varsity for four years with the Ravens, experiencing the ups and downs with the program. He stayed though the tough times, like his freshman and sophomore years when there was a mass exodus of players, and felt the disappointment of losing in the semifinals of this tournament the past two seasons.

Playing in the tournament final for the first time, Okoro shined on the biggest stage. From early on, it was clear that he was going to be the player to lead the Ravens (21-9) to their first title in eight years. St. Raymond held off a late rally by Holy Cross at the end by making its free throws to secure the victory.

"He was big," junior guard Shane Rector said. "He was one of our leaders and we knew he could step up when his name was called and we needed him.

Okoro established himself in the paint and scored seven points in the first quarter as he helped his team grab a lead. The smaller Holy Cross (24-5) team didn't have anyone who could truly keep Okoro from the paint and that's where he did his dirty work, scoring on layups and off of offensive rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, with his team leading 54-52 but reeling with just 3:23 left, Okoro grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, making both free throws to boost the lead back up to four and give his team breathing room. He also helped contain Cross' Will Davis in the second half, as Davis had 13 points in the first half but just eight in the second.

"It was great that the guy who has been with me four years, had his best game of the season in the biggest game of the year in his career," St. Raymond coach Oliver Antigua said. "He made every huge play."

As soon as the game ended, Okoro and teammate Daniel Dingle embraced near halfcourt, with Dingle falling on top of Okoro as he fell to the ground. Okoro said he was numb to the pain because of how happy he was.

Okoro would go on to pose for plenty of pictures with fans, show off his MVP plaque and soak in all of the moment. After three years of being a spectator, now, this was his moment.

"I feel like I'm on top of the world right now, this is the best way to end my high school career," Okoro said. " I'm sure my coaches in Iowa (State), coach (Fred) Hoiberg, will be happy because every coach wants a winning player and I just won."

Rapid Reax: St. Raymond 66, Holy Cross 58

March, 11, 2012

St. Raymond defeated Holy Cross, 66-58, at Fordham University on Sunday to win the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional title. The Ravens won for the first time since 2004.

The Ravens, after being the No. 4 seed in the Archdiocesan tournament, won the Archdiocesan title against Mount St. Michael and then won the Intersectional title on Sunday. They advance to the State Federation tournament in Albany in two weeks.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: St. Raymond led for most of the way but Holy Cross always stayed within striking distance. The Ravensled 59-56 with 55.2 seconds left but Anthony Libroia missed a layup with about 35 seconds left and Shane Rector made his free throws to boost the lead to five.

On the inbound pass, Myron Hickman stole the ball and made a free throw to give his team a six-point lead with 26 seconds remaining. The Ravens were able to knock down their free throws in the final minute and secure the victory.

TURNING POINT: After Holy Cross tied the game at 48-48 in the fourth quarter, St. Raymond went on a 6-0 run that gave it some breathing room. Daniel Dingle, Larry Graves and Shane Rector each scored during the run. Holy Cross never tied the game after the Ravens were able to balloon the lead to six, despite cutting the lead to a basket later.

STAR OF THE GAME: Kerwin Okoro, who is headed to Iowa State, led his team with 21 points. He was a force inside the post and was grabbing plenty of rebounds. Okoro proved to be the most consistent offensive threat for the Ravens all game.

With his team up 54-52, he made both free throws after being fouled following an offensive rebound, a key play as Holy Cross had been making its run.

STATS: Okoro and Cross' Will Davis each had 21. Dingle had 11 and Rector scored 16 points for St. Raymond (21-9). Marquise Moore scored 13 points and Edward Roscigno had 12 for Holy Cross (24-5).

UP NEXT: St. Raymond advances to the New York State Federation tournament in Albany in two weeks. Holy Cross' season is over.

CHSAA boys Class AA quarterfinals recap

March, 4, 2012
The final four teams for the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional tournament are settled after the league hosted its quarterfinals on Sunday at Fordham University. Holy Cross, Cardinal Hayes and St. Raymond each won, while Mount St. Michael pulled the upset by defeating the two-time defending champion Christ the King. Here's the highlights from the day.

Mount 64, Christ the King 57: In the shocker of the day, the two-time defending league champion Christ the King was stunned by Mount St. Michael in the quarterfinals. Mount (21-7) took the lead for good in the second quarter and held off a late Royals' (19-8) rally.

"I know I'm a pretty lucky guy, there aren't too many guys in our league that have two city championships," Christ the King coach Joe Arbitello said. "At some point, it had to come to an end and there's a reason it hasn't been won three times in a row in 30 years because that's the type of league it is. It's a good league."

Guard Malik Gill led Mount's effort by dropping 30 points on the Royals, helping the team grab a 31-24 lead at the half and making clutch free throws down the stretch. CK played without the benched Isaiah Lewis, but Arbitello did not believe that made a difference in the outcome.

The Mountaineers advance to take on Holy Cross in the semifinals.

Holy Cross 74, Molloy 61: Guided by the goal of not wanting their season to end, Holy Cross avenged an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat Molloy in the quarterfinals.

"Halftime we came out and said this can't be the last game of our season," said senior Marquise Moore, who led all scorers with 23 points. "We played harder and with more energy and we knew if we did that we'd have a good chance to win the game."

Molloy (16-12) dominated the first half as it took a 30-19 lead but things fell apart after that. Holy Cross (23-4) owned the second half, going on a huge run in the third to take a 43-42 lead going into the fourth and then opened the game up.

The Knights lost last year in the semifinals to Rice and are aiming for their first title since 2008.

Cardinal Hayes 80, Bishop Loughlin 59: Cardinal Hayes took full advantage of its size advantage against Bishop Loughlin as its big men combination of Amadou Sidibe and Jalen Jenkins combined for 40 points. Sidbe led the way with 21 points and 20 rebounds.

"Coach told me this morning to come out and play hard," Sidibe said. "That's what I made sure I came out here to do."

Hayes (24-4) and Louglhin (13-14) were tied after the first quarter but Hayes opened up the game in the second and took a 36-25 lead into the half. The Lions never challenged the Cardinals during the second half of the contest.

The Cardinals will take on St. Raymond in the semifinals, a team that beat it last time out but a team Hayes is 2-1 against.

St. Raymond 70, All Hallows 54: Senior Daniel Dingle played like a one-man wrecking crew as he had 27 points and eight rebounds to power St. Raymond to the semifinals for the third straight year. The Ravens will be looking to advance to their first final in that stretch.

"The last time we played against them I finished with zero points and fouled out," Dingle said. "I came in with a vengeance and basically went out there and played hard."

The Ravens (19-9) led 11-10 after one and were up 32-27 at the half but broke the game open in the third and fourth quarter. His fellow post player, Kerwin Okoro, added 14 points and 13 rebounds for St. Raymond as it went 4-0 vs. All Hallows this year.
St. Raymond coach Oliver Antigua had a feeling that his two stud seniors, forwards Kerwin Okoro and Daniel Dingle, would show why they're two of New York City's best in the Class AA Archdiocesan title game on Saturday.

"I was having a conversation with someone last night and I said I had a good feeling about my two stars," Antigua said. "I said 'watch and see.'"

If you watched on Saturday, you saw Antigua's prediction come true. His two stars combined for 38 points and 21 rebounds as they powered St. Raymond to its first Archdiocesan crown since 2005 with a 60-58 win over Mount St. Michael in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon. Okoro had 21 points and 12 rebounds while Dingle had 17 points and nine rebounds.

"Both of us as captains and seniors wanted to leave with a bang and wanted to win," Dingle said. "We didn't want to put the pressure on anybody's hands who hadn't been here before. There are a lot of people that hadn't been in this place before. We've lost so we know what the feeling feels like in this place. Now we know what it's like to win."

FINALLY THE BRIDE: After losing in this game six straight times to the now-closed Rice, Antigua described his team as the "bridesmaid." The fourth-seeded Ravens (18-9) finally put an end to that streak by taking down third-seeded Mount (20-7).

"It was getting annoying and stressful," Okoro said of the continued losing. "You only get one shot at this every year. It's our last year so we wanted to make a good run. It's also good momentum heading into the playoffs right now. We're just where we want to be."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: A frantic game saw St. Raymond leading for most of the way but Mount St. Michael was always able to keep it close.

A key aspect was the foul trouble of Omari Manhertz, Mount's bruising forward, as he picked up three fouls in the first half and had to play tentatively down the stretch with four fouls. Okoro and Dingle attacked the basket knowing Manhertz couldn't attack.

"The plan was to attack Manhertz," Dingle said.

Mount trailed 57-56 with 2:28 left and had three chances to take the lead or tie the game but failed each time. Ed Correa (11 points) missed a 3-pointer down one, Anthony Maestre (10 points) missed a jumper down two, and Malik Gill missed a jumper with his team trailing 58-56 with about 12 seconds left.

St. Raymond's Larry Graves calmly sunk both free throws after Gill's miss to put his team up 60-56 with 10.2 seconds left.

"That's senior leadership," Antigua said. "Going in there calm, he hadn't played really well, he's nursing a little injury. I went and gave him a kiss. I said that's a big two there."

STAR OF THE GAME: Okoro led all scorers with 21 points and also had 12 rebounds to pace the Ravens. In the fourth quarter, the forward guarded Gill down the stanza, making life tough on Mount's fast guard.

"I was finishing around the basket and getting offensive rebounds," Okoro said. "I was getting to the line a lot so my free throws were generating points of us and I was playing off everybody else. I was just playing my role."

QUOTE OF THE GAME: St. Raymond has now five straight games and is feeling confident entering the Intersectional tournament.

"It all started with (the win over) Lincoln, the confidence with the guards, the guards started knocking down shots and running the team," Dingle said. "So if they're good, we're good. If we grew together, we're going to win it all. Right now, it' just phase one we have to continue working."

UP NEXT: St. Raymond awaits the Xaverian vs. All Hallows winner in the quarterfinals while Mount also awaits the Christ the King vs. Stepinac winner in the quarters.

Game of the Week: Mount vs. St. Raymond

February, 24, 2012
WHO: No. 5 St. Raymond vs. No. 10 Mount St. Michael

WHERE: Mount St. Michael

WHEN: Saturday, 1:45 p.m.

WHY THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT: The Bronx rivals meet on Saturday for the Archdiocesan crown in what should be an entertaining game. The two teams split their games this season, with St. Raymond winning by two points at home and Mount winning by four at home.

St. Raymond is perhaps the surprise team in this final as it knocked off top-seeded Cardinal Hayes in the semifinals after being bested by the Cardinals twice this season. The Ravens have been an annual participant in this game but usually had to face Rice, who often beat them.

Mount is in the final as the No. 3 seed after defeating No. 2 St. Peter's in the semifinals. The Mountaineers are following up their CHSAA Class A Intersectional title with a strong showing in their move up to the AA. A win Sunday would be a great moment in the program's history.


Mount St. Michael senior guard Malik Gill
Mount St. Michael senior guard Anthony Maestre
Mount St. Michael senior forward Omari Manhertz
St. Raymond junior guard Shane Rector
St. Raymond senior forward Kerwin Okoro
St. Raymond senior forward Daniel Dingle


Mount St. Michael: Thomas Fraher
St. Raymond: Oliver Antigua


No. 10 Mount St. Michael (20-6)

Dec. 1: 75-42 win vs. Hempstead
Dec. 5: 61-29 win vs. James Monroe
Dec. 8: 83-42 win vs. Evander Childs
Dec. 10: 67-46 win at Baldwin
Dec. 13: 79-73 win vs. Harborfields
Dec. 17: 58-54 win vs. Bishop Loughlin
Dec. 20: 48-47 win at All Hallows
Dec. 27: 68-57 win vs. Concordia (Del.)
Dec. 28: 57-42 win at Long Island Lutheran
Dec. 29: 55-37 win vs. Bishop Timon
Jan. 3: 69-52 loss vs. Cardinal Hayes
Jan. 7: 75-50 win vs. Farrell
Jan. 10: 66-62 win vs. St. Raymond
Jan. 14: 64-59 loss vs. Holy Cross
Jan. 17: 61-58 win at Xaverian
Jan. 20: 61-50 win at Stepinac
Jan. 23: 68-44 win vs. Lehman
Jan. 27: 61-48 win at Fordham Prep
Jan. 31: 58-56 loss at St. Raymond
Feb. 2: 51-50 loss at St. Peter's
Feb. 7: 57-50 loss at Cardinal Hayes
Feb. 9: 53-46 win vs. All Hallows
Feb. 11: 61-35 win vs. Fordham Prep
Feb. 14: 58-50 win vs. Stepinac
Feb. 19: 63-47 win vs. Stepinac
Feb. 21: 66-47 win vs. St. Peter's

No. 5. St. Raymond (17-9)

Dec. 2: 75-52 win vs. All Hallows
Dec. 4: 67-45 win at St. Peter's
Dec. 9: 62-56 win vs. Stepinac
Dec. 11: 75-46 win vs. Farrell
Dec. 17: 73-70 win vs. Trinity (Ky.)
Dec. 19: 80-61 loss vs. Montverde (Calif.)
Dec. 20: 63-58 loss vs. Mater Dei (Calif.)
Dec. 27: 66-56 win vs. Middle Creek (N.C.)
Dec. 29: 60-56 win vs. Millbrook (N.C.)
Dec. 30: 75-63 win vs. Garner (N.C.)
Jan. 5: 61-53 win at Fordham Prep
Jan. 7: 68-61 win vs. Paul VI
Jan. 10: 66-62 loss at Mount St. Michael
Jan. 13: 69-64 loss vs. Cardinal Hayes
Jan. 17: 57-56 loss at Stepinac
Jan. 24: 64-49 win vs. Fordham Prep
Jan. 31: 58-56 win vs. Mount
Feb. 3: 84-74 loss vs. Christ the King
Feb. 7: 69-62 win at All Hallows
Feb. 10: 84-58 loss at Cardinal Hayes
Feb. 15: 55-51 win at Lincoln
Feb. 16: 78-77 win vs. Boys & Girls
Feb. 19: 67-50 win vs. All Hallows
Jan. 21: 81-73 win vs. Cardinal Hayes

Naz's Butler to play in All-American Game

February, 9, 2012
Nazareth girls basketball senior wing Brianna Butler finally got some good news.

"It's been an up-and-down year," Butler said after being selected on Thursday to the McDonald's All-American Game. "We lost our coach, I was ineligible then eligible, playing our games, now having the school close, it's been up and down. This is a nice change of events."

Butler was the lone player from New York City to be chosen to play in the McDonald's All-American Game on March 28. The senior transferred to the Brooklyn school for this season and has helped Nazareth to its national ranking.

"It's a big deal, a once in a lifetime opportunity," Butler said. "I'm just happy to have made the team."

Butler transferred to Nazareth this year from Penn Charter (Penn.) , landing at the school of her AAU coach, Apache Paschall. Butler is the No. 13 prospect in the class of 2012 and has helped Nazareth to a 12-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in New York City by Her coach, Ron Kelley, told her during school that she had been selected for the game.

So far this season, it's been a bumpy road for Butler and the rest of her Nazareth teammates. Butler was ineligible at the beginning of the season and then declared eligible. Paschall died on Jan. 3 and there has been controversy surrounding the cancellation of games. On Wednesday, Nazareth announced that it will be closing its doors at the end of the school year.

Butler said she believes that she is averaging about 18 to 19 points per game this season for the Lady Kingsmen. She will be playing in the game with her future Syracuse teammate, Brittney Sykes of University (Newark, N.J.).

"That's a good feeling," Butler said. "We're future teammates and will get to play together."

New York City had four players nominated for the game but Butler was the only one to get chosen. Nazareth teammate Darius Faulk, Christ the King boys shooting guard Omar Calhoun and St. Raymond forward Kerwin Okoro did not get chosen for the game.

"It would have been nice to have (Darius and I) got to the game," Butler said. "I kind of do wish that we had two people from Nazareth at the game."

This is the second straight year that a girls basketball player has been the lone representative for New York City in the McDonald's All-American game. Christ the King's Bria Smith, now a freshman at Louisville, was the lone selection from the Big Apple last season.

Across the river, St. Anthony boys basketball small forward Kyle Anderson was chosen for the game. New Jersey also had a pair of girls who will represent the Garden State in the game.

St. Ray's Okoro to Iowa State

June, 20, 2011
Iowa State hasn’t had much recent success on the hardwood, but Nkereuwem "Kerwin" Okoro isn’t concerned with that. The rising senior basketball player at St. Raymond who verbally committed on Sunday night to play for the Cyclones in 2012-13 sees a bright future ahead for the Big 12 squad.

"They have all these recruits coming in who are going to be playing next year and it looks real good for the next couple of years," Okoro said. "If we just continue to be humble and work hard, I think good things are on the way. If we all believe in the coach, we’re going to do good things."

Okoro, a three-star recruit, is the seventh-best player in New York and the third-ranked player from one of New York City’s basketball leagues according to ESPNU. The shooting guard, ranked 34th at his position nationally, chose Iowa State over Big East squads Pittsburgh and Seton Hall.

"The recruiting process wasn’t stressful but it feels good to know where I’m going," Okoro said. "It gives me more time and freedom to focus on other stuff, like my academics, and get ready for my senior year."

While Iowa State has struggled on the court recently, Okoro likes the direction the team is heading under coach Fred Hoiberg. The Cyclones finished 16-16 last year and are bringing in a pair of three-star recruits for next season, as well as a trio of transfers, including Royce White from Minnesota and Chris Allen from Michigan State.

The shooting guard also said that Iowa State recruit Tavon Sledge, who is headed to the school next season from Half Hollow Hills West in Long Island, helped bring him from his Bronx home to the Midwest. Okoro said he and Sledge have texted back and forth and Sledge wanted Okoro to join him at Iowa State.

"We’ve known each for a while as we played in New York," Okoro said. "It’s good to have somebody from the same state who is there with me that I can relate to and I can share things with."

Iowa State had aggressively recruited Okoro and he took an unofficial visit to the school in January. He loved the environment and the different pace of life from New York City, as he said it’s much more calm in Iowa. Okoro also liked the facilities and spoke highly of the coaching staff and the fans.

Okoro, who earned first-team All-CHSAA honors and averaged 13.6 points last season, also took an unofficial visit to Seton hall and had played at Pittsburgh during a tournament, but they didn’t match what Iowa State had to offer.

"I just had a great feel for the place since my visit," Okoro said. "It was little factors like talking to the current players and the incoming players. It kept gravitating me toward my decision. I talked with my family, my coaches and made the decision where I want to go."

With Okoro’s future set, he can now turn his attention from being a recruit to becoming a recruiter. St. Raymond rising senior Daniel Dingle, one of the city’s top recruits, is uncommitted and has an offer from Iowa State. Okoro is pushing to see if the two could possibly be teammates beyond just next year.

Said Okoro: "I’ve been on him."