CONSHOHOCKEN >> Last year the Raw Sports All Stars lost the Donofrio Classic championship game by 43 points.
Now, they are the ones with the dominant victory.
Raw Sports beat LVBR, 118-91, in the 58th Annual Albert C. Donofrio Classic Tuesday night at the Fellowship House of Conshohocken.
“It means a lot,” MVP Sam Sessoms, who led Raw Sports to their first Donofrio title with 24 points, said. “I know this is Raw Sports fifth year being in the tournament. I believe we made it to the championship three times and I was a part of the team last year that made it and lost by 40. This experience is just amazing and I’m glad I’m able to be a part of the first championship team.”
Sessoms, a Shipley senior and Binghamton commit, scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first half to help Raw Sports build a 53-27 first-half lead. He dazzled with three-point shooting, athletic drives and calculated runners. Timber Creek senior Maurice Murray and Girard College sophomore Mikael Jones scored nine and eight points, respectively, in the opening 20 minutes.
While Raw Sports was lighting up the scoreboard, LVBR was struggling. LVBR had plenty of good looks around the basket and from three-point range but couldn’t find the bottom of the net. Mater Dei senior and Loyola (Md.) commit Kenny Jones led LVBR in scoring with five points in the first half.
“It’s not that frustrating to me because I know you’re going to have nights like that,” LVBR’s Luther Muhammad, a Hudson Catholic senior and Ohio State commit, said. “You play over a thousand games in your career, you’re going to have games like that. It’s going to happen. You’re going to have games where you can’t make a shot. As long as you keep your head up, continue to compete and play defense, that’s all that matters. Everything else is going to fall in place.”
Despite the 26-point halftime advantage, Raw Sports coaches spent the intermission telling its players to play like the score was 0-0 and that’s exactly what they did. Their advantage peaked at 33 points and never dipped below 20.
“We just have a great group of guys,” Sessoms said. “Everyone had the same goal — to win a championship. No one got big-headed and everyone gave their best effort on the defensive end and we preached the same message.”
Roman Catholic senior and Towson commit Allen Betrand did the heavy lifting for Raw Sports in the second half, scoring 17 of his 21 points after the break.
Despite the blowout, the championship game featured all the things that make the Donofrio Classic a great tournament. More than 10 Division 1 college players took the floor. Raw Sports’ Jones and LVBR’s Chase Audige threw down a few highlight-reel dunks. Betrand and Muhammad had a one-on-one matchup over several possessions where they took progressively deeper three-pointers in each others face.
“It’s very fun,” Muhammad said. “It let me know no one is going to back down. It let me know there are people here that can play ball, too. That’s what makes me a better player.”
Audige, a Hill School senior and William & Mary commit, led LVBR with 24 points. Muhammad added 21 and Perkiomen senior and New Hampshire commit Nick Guadarrama had 20.
These players all contributed to another chapter in the storied history of the Donofrio Classic.
“This is such a prestigious tournament,” Sessoms said. “All the great people that came through this way played in it. Just for us to be able to go outside, you know the pictures they have hanging up, just for us to be able to go up there years from now, we can show our kids, ‘Hey we were a part of this team.’ It just means a lot. Shows that we were pretty good ball players.”
“It means a lot,” Muhammad said. “It means I’m now a part of that history. It’s a great feeling to be a part of a good tournament every year. It’s a great tournament every year. This is my first year playing in it and I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed playing.”
All Tournament Team
Albert C. Donofrio Award
Whelan Twins Memorial MVP Award
Art Andrey, Sr. MVP Award