Dec 21, 2011
Keeping up with a Jones – Madison Jones – has become a Holiday Invitational tradition.
Jones, Raleigh Ravenscroft’s 6-foot-1 senior point guard, will earn an elite distinction when the Kevin Billerman-coached Ravens take the court this week. He will become one of the few players who have played in three Holiday Invitationals.
Then, again, keeping up with Jones is easier said than done. Two years removed from being a member of Ravenscroft’s first Invitational entrant (2008), Jones scored 11 points to help the Ravens to a 57-52 win over Apex Middle Creek that secured the school’s first Invitational championship.
Ravenscroft, winners of eight of its first 10 games, seeks to show why keeping up with Jones and others may be even more difficult a year later. The Ravens have tallied a nearly plus-20 scoring advantage, averaging 75.6 points per outing while yielding 55.9. Both of the team’s setbacks – including a three-point decision against Greenfield – were by a combined seven points.
Ravenscroft’s offensive balance has kept opponents off-balance. Along with Jones, who has matched his uniform number with 12 points per contest, Anton Gill, a 6-2 junior, nets 14 per outing. Already, Gill has a seemingly endless list of Division I scholarship offers, including four ACC schools – N.C. State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Miami.
Gill scored 16 points in the 2010 Invitational triumph over Middle Creek en route to the MVP award.
Anchoring the Ravens’ interior effort is Marcus Bryan, a 6-7, 215-pound junior. Bryan chipped in 16 in last year’s Invitational final, and is averaging 12.5 per game this campaign.
Andrew Franz, a 6-4 senior, adds more than 9 points per game.
Scholarship offers are waiting for Jones, too, including Seton Hall of the Big East, and home state institutions N.C. Central and East Carolina. Time need not rush along, though, as the entire Ravenscroft team is motivated by some unfinished business – an opportunity for another first.
Jones’ first season on the Falls of Neuse Road campus concluded with the Ravens falling to Arden Christ School in the NCISAA 3A final. Ravenscroft has not won a boys’ basketball state championship since 1980, well before the 3A classification. That team was coached by Jimmy Cox – now in his 36th year as a Ravenscroft physical education instructor.
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