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There's no doubting Gaels' Thomas

January 19, 1997

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

Because he's a senior on the St. Maria Goretti basketball team, John Thomas is up to his neck in responsibility. That's just the way the Gaels do things.

Goretti seniors are saddled with huge expectations. It's a curse and a privilege.

Thomas did his best to live up to both ends of the Gaels' deal on Saturday. He scored 16 points, including two back-breaking three-point plays in the fourth quarter, lifting Goretti to a 73-60 victory over Musselman.

"I expect it from myself," Thomas said. "I learned a lot from Boo (Phil Lane) and Jay (Piccolomini). They helped me adapt to being able to take the big shot. It's part of the tradition here. That's why I came here."

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In the boxscore, Thomas' 16 points will be overshadowed by the slashing and dashing 28-point outburst by Kyle Logan. But in a sequence when the Gaels (10-9) were struggling against a sticky Musselman zone defense, the 6-foot-4 Thomas came up big.

Goretti led 34-31 at the half, but couldn't shake the Applemen (9-2). Musselman used a combination of 1-3-1 and 1-2-2 alignments to slow the Gaels' transition game. Beating the setup defense down the floor was the only way Goretti could use the fast break.

"We made a couple of good runs, but against a good team like Goretti, you can't get yourself in a hole too many times," Musselman coach Guy Sharp said. "Our kids hung in there and I'm proud of them. We slowed their transition with our zone to get us back in the game, but it didn't win it for us."

The Applemen were within 56-52 with 4:30 remaining when Thomas took over. First, he made a steal from behind and drove the length of the court for a layup and a foul to extend the Goretti lead to seven. Musselman again closed to within 63-58 with a minute remaining. Thomas was fouled on his second coast-to-coast drive which put the game away.

"You should expect that from a senior," Goretti coach Cokey Robertson said. "He's been here for four years. He made that clutch drive when it was within four points. That's what helped open it up for us. We got a break and he took it."

The Gaels led the entire first half, holding a 34-31 lead at intermission. The Applemen opened the second half with a 6-1 run to lead 37-35, but a five-point possession on an intentional foul gave the Gaels the lead for good.

Chris Cline led Musselman with 18 points and Josh Benton added 11.

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