As soon as Haverford School’s Christian Ray steps inside the gym, the 6-foot-7 junior is on duty.
Ray, who primarily played down low last season, has emerged as an all-around threat on both ends of the floor for the Fords.
Friday night against visiting Malvern Prep, Ray’s versatility helped the Fords earn at least a share of the Inter-Ac crown for the first time since 1999.
The Fords (17-5, 8-0), undefeated in league play, routed the Friars, 83-58, thanks to a huge offensive night from senior Kharon Randolph, and Ray’s multipurpose prowess.
“I just do whatever [coaches] need me to do,” said Ray, who as a sophomore transferred from Octorara Area High School in Atglen, Pa. “My main focus regardless of the stats is to just lead, regardless of who I’m guarding.”
In addition to his 24 points and 11 rebounds, at times Friday night that meant checking Malvern sophomore Deuce Turner.
Turner is slick with a dribble, changes direction with precision and possesses a butter-soft jumper.
Not exactly a matchup for a 6-7 forward.
“It definitely took time,” Ray said. “Coming from my old school I was one of the taller kids so I just naturally knew how to play big man.”
Turner finished with 19 points and shot 4 of 9 from the field, including 2 of 2 from the three-point line and 9 of 9 at the foul line.
As a team, however, the Friars (14-7, 6-2) shot just 5 of 20 from three and Fran Oschell (17 points, many late in the fourth) was the only other player in double figures.
Ray’s willingness and ability to guard on the perimeter allowed coach Bernie Rogers to vary his lineups and go small when needed.
“It kind of evolved,” Rogers said. “The way we try to play is that your skills dictate what you can do, and he could dribble, pass and shoot, so all right — go do it.”
The Fords led, 39-30, at the half after Randolph led the Friars with 14.
Turner dropped 17 by intermission and the Friars even got within 39-34 early in the third before the Fords blew the game open and led by 64-41 heading into the fourth.
Haverford School isn’t quite finished yet. The Fords still play Springside Chestnut Hill (7-11, 3-4) and at Penn Charter (14-8, 3-4) to end the season.
A share of the crown isn’t all it wants.
“This is definitely huge,” said Ray. “We wanted this for the community. The last one was 1999, the one before that was 1978, so we wanted this for them for all the support that we got.”
He added: “We’re 8-0, but one game at a time. We want to get to 10-0. I think it was 1927 the last time Haverford did that, so we want to keep making history.”
Haverford School 23 16 25 19 83
Malvern Prep 12 18 11 17 58
HS: Khari’s Randolph 26, Christian Ray 24, Christian Clover 13, Jaylen Stinson 2, Gavin Burke 6, Asim Richards 9, Tommy Bagnell 3.
MP: Deuce Turner 19, Fran Oschell 17, Isaac White 9, Rahdir Hicks 4, TyGee Leach 2, Spencer Cochran 4, Lonnie White 3.