John Wall and Word of God take round II

Raleigh Ravenscroft played host to Word of God last evening in one of the more hyped Wake County area basketball games in recent memory.   The gym was full

Beckwith, Leslie, Wall - copyright BDNP
Beckwith, Leslie, Wall - copyright BDNP

before the girls’ game started and by game time for the boys, there was a throng of people standing outside in frigid weather hoping to catch a glimpse of John Wall, C.J. Leslie and Ryan Kelly. Some went as far to bill the game Wall versus Kelly II. Ravenscroft had defeated Word of God on their home floor earlier this season.  The Ravens were poised to sweep the series, but Word of God had other ideas and a bit of a chip on their shoulder. After the game Ravenscroft head coach Kevin Billerman said, “I think it was a great environment for high school athletics to have the city of Raleigh turn out as it did.  If you looked in the stands you saw maybe fifty percent of the highs schools area basketball players.  Everybody wanted to see the game.” The Ravens started out ice cold, Kelly went 0 for 5 before finding his range.  For a while Kelly would score and then Wall would answer.  For instance 8Kelly scored on the baseline and before you could blink Wall nailed a three.  Then Kelly would dunk and Wall would return the favor.  ” “They were just leaving me open and I was making shots tonight feeling confident.  He (Kelly would hit one and then I would shoot it and it felt good,” said Wall. It benefited WOG that N.C. State bound C.J. Leslie asserted himself early as well.    Leslie who would end the game with points showed a good mid range jumper to go with his play around the glass and even drained a three point shot. UNC Wilmington commitment Matt Wilson also played well early, but faded down the stretch.  It was later learned that he had been fighting off a bug and was playing sick. But Wall put on a show.  I once timed him after a rebound and he went end to end finishing with a driving lay in just as the stop watch hit three seconds.    Every time 7the home team would cut it to with a couple of  baskets, Wall would raise the level of his play often dunking in a show boat fashion bringing the crowd to it’s feet. Word of God was able to get the Ravens to play their style of up and down ball and a few rushed shots later, they took a 43-30 lead into the half. It would never get any closer. As the second half opened, the slam fest continued.  Before you know it Wall had tallied 24 points and his team had a commanding twenty point margin many of those by way of the break. “When you take jump shots against them, all of a sudden John (Wall) is laying it in

Wall and Beckwith - copyright BDNP
Wall and Beckwith - copyright BDNP

on the other end.  Our best two defenders are our two 6-11 guys and for them to sprint back when John Wall does is difficult,” said Billerman. He continued with his accolades for Wall, “I’ve seen John play many, many times before and he shot the ball as well as I have ever seen him.  He’s really a very good team player.” Kelly did his best to put his team on his back, but the twenty point working margin held up for a 82-64 Word of God victory.  The win pushed their record to 11-9 for

Kelly at the end of flushing down a dunk - copyright BDNP
Kelly at the end of flushing down a dunk - copyright BDNP

the season, but bare in mind that record comes against a tough tournament laden schedule. “We got into a bit of a running match which isn’t what we are.  We don’t compare well with a team with their athleticism.   The last time we got them and we controlled the tempo better,” said Kelly. Kelly wound up the games high scorer with 29 points, but his teammates failed to find him on the blocks where he had enormous success when given that chance.  In fact, the guard play of the Ravens was their undoing in due to rushed and poor shot selection. Wall ended the game with 28 points, with two three pointers and a bushel of

Wall signed for fans
Wall signed for fans

dunks.  He showed a better touch from the outside than he has in the past and seemed to recognize holes in the defense. “We took an extra look at film yesterday and we saw we should push the ball with no hesitation.  And you could see we were pushing and their backs were turned and we were scoring and getting fouled.  I was seeing the different match ups and after talking to the coaches and it worked out fine and we came out with a good win,” said Wall. Wall was surrounded by autograph seekers after the game and he stated, “Im used to it after AAU ball, but usually it’s not that much.” The WOG handlers stepped up in the press conference and would not allow any recruiting questions, threatening to immediately leave if the media didn’t comply.  Wall is the top player in high school that has yet to commit. There were some hints given earlier that he would be trimming the list and setting up some visits which will be discussed in our premium section.  The entire Wall Q & A is there as well. Another player who helped the Rams cause was Bishop Daniels who tallied 15 points.  “Bishop is really doing a great job developing.  I told him at the beginning of the year we’re going to play thirty games this year, 18 of them, you’re going to stake it up.  One of the things you saw him do tonight is get out in transition,” said WOG Coach Levi Beckwith. While disappointed in the loss Ravenscroft Coach Kevin Billerman put the game into perspective, “This will be a game is good practice for us and good preparation for us advancing into the state tournament in two weeks.”  Notes – Ravenscroft (21-6) will travel to Durham Academy this Friday.   Word of God will host Greenfield next Wednesday.  Greenfield is rinding a 16 game winning streak.  North Carolina State Coach Sydney Lowe watched the game.  One of the WOG coaches said their recod was 17-7.  So, I’m uncertain of which record is correct.  For futher coverage, join Blue Devil Nation Premium and get full inside access.