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St. James tournament not just for stars

February 13, 1997

By MARK KELLER

Staff Writer

ST. JAMES - For more than two dozen players who will play in this weekend's St. James Invitational Tournament, the dream of continuing their career at a Division I college is not really a dream at all. It's reality.

These are the players who will likely create the most excitement and stir the most emotion in the crowd. These are the players that draw the huge crowds to this tournament every year.

But it's the other players on the eight participating teams who could change the complexion of the tournament. These "unknown" players are being called upon to play against some of the best high school players in the country. And most, like Pete Webb of St. James, are ready to accept the challenge.

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Webb, a senior forward for the Saints, says that he no longer thinks of the opposing player as anything other than the opponent.

"When I was younger, it really affected me, the fact that we were playing against those guys," said Webb, a three-year varsity player. "Now that I've been here a couple of years and we see it all the time, I've gotten used to it. I know what to expect when I go out there."

The Saints play the first game of this year's tournament, facing Oak Hill today at 4 p.m. The Warriors were ranked among the nation's best early in the season and might be looking past the host team to a possible second-round meeting with Mount Zion of Durham, N.C., currently ranked No. 2 by USA Today.

"(Oak Hill) has a lot of good players," Webb said. "And if they can put that in the back of your mind, they'll do like they do to every other team and beat you bad.

"It helps that we played them earlier in the season," Webb said. "We were scared the first time we played. But now, we know what they are going to come with, and we think we are ready."

"We don't have the talent or depth that Oak Hill has, but our game plan should let us stick around with them," said St. James coach Wayne Ridenour. "Hey, Princeton beat UCLA in the NCAA last year, so why not us?"

As for Webb, he's planning to attend a Division I school in the fall. But his focus will be on academics, not the basketball court. He said he hopes to go either Penn State or the University of North Carolina.

Still, the dream lingers. Like a professional athlete nearing the end of his career, Webb has not given in completely.

"I wouldn't mind after a while, being there a couple of years, trying to walk on (to the basketball team)," Webb said. "I've dreamed about that."

After all, who hasn't?

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