Iona Prep knew that moving into the CHSAA’s AA division wouldn’t be easy, not with just two returning contributors and two sophomores in its starting lineup. Even so, the Gaels hinted at their potential on Wednesday by winning in the gym at St. Raymond.
Although the Ravens, the defending Archdiocesan and city champs, were depleted by graduation, transfers and the loss of their coach, the win signaled Iona Prep could compete with established Class AA programs. Likewise, Friday night proved just how much of a challenge that will be game in and game out.
The Gaels’ rude awakening came at the hands of their inhospitable guest, Christ the King, which rolled over them 76-46 with superior size, speed and an all-encompassing second-quarter run.
“Coming into the season, we knew no game would be a walkthrough like some last year when we were in (division) A,” said junior Isiah Ice, Iona Prep’s only returning starter from last season’s CHSAA state champs. “This was definitely a wake-up call for us.”
Was it ever. The Gaels (3-2) allowed 20 offensive rebounds, mostly to 6-foot-10 Adonis Delarosa and 6-5 Jordan Fuchs, who punished them in the paint. Even Christ the King guards Jon Severe and Malik Harmon overwhelmed Iona Prep with their strength, both on the offensive glass and on penetration.
Harmon and Fuchs led all scorers with 16, and Delarosa chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“It was their size,” Iona Prep senior Brandon Williams said. “We tried our best boxing out, but it was really tough for us. We’re really small as a team.”
The Gaels’ tallest starter, sophomore Matt Ryan, is also one of their featured offensive players. He was limited to just two points by the rugged Fuchs, a Division I football and basketball recruit.
Ryan fouled out in the third quarter, but the Royals had long since exacted their damage. Ice, who scored a team-high 10 points, had helped Iona Prep shave an early double-digit deficit to 18-15 early in the second quarter when Christ the King launched a 27-6 run to end the half.
“We just have to learn from it and try to get better,” Gaels coach Vic Quirolo said. “We have to take this experience and learn that we just can’t let teams build that momentum. We have to be a little tougher at times and weather the storm.”
And soon. Iona Prep’s schedule is unrelenting. It includes White Plains at 5 p.m. today and rivals Stepinac and New Rochelle next Friday and Saturday.
“It’s going to pile on, so we just have to keep focused,” Williams said. “We can’t dwell on the things we did wrong tonight. We just have to keep our heads up.”