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Thomas Johnson, St. John's on collision course

February 14, 1997

By MARK KELLER

Staff Writer

ST. JAMES - Coaches Tom Dickman of Thomas Johnson and Stu Vetter of St. John's at Prospect Hall obviously do not look at their semifinal game tonight in the same light as many of the basketball fans who will flock to see it.

The Patriots and Vikings, both located within the Frederick city limits, will meet for the first time since 1966 after each posted convincing wins in the first round of the St. James Invitational Tournament.

Thomas Johnson defeated Martinsburg, 75-48, and St. John's beat Mercersburg Academy, 83-49, to set up the long-anticipated matchup. The teams were scheduled to play in the semifinal round last year, but the game was cancelled due to snow.

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"We're in the semifinals of the tournament and we happen to be playing St. John's," Dickman said. "It has no extra meaning. We want to win, but our season won't end if we beat them or lose to them."

"This should be an annual game. I wish it were," said Vetter. "It's a big game for the area, but from our standpoint, it's the semifinal game of the St. James tournament."

Brandon Jackson put Martinsburg (13-3) on the board first with a 3-pointer just 12 seconds into the game. Hasheem Alexander answered with a trey at the other end to start Thomas Johnson on an 18-0 run that the Bulldogs would never recover from. Terence Morris had nine points in the streak for the Patriots (15-3).

After the Bulldogs got the first basket in the second, Thomas Johnson rattled off the next 12 points for a 34-13 advantage. The Patriots got another 12-0 run in the third to gain their biggest lead, 59-28.

Terence Morris led Thomas Johnson with 23 points and Hasheem Alexander added 19. Jason Dirting had 12 points for Martinsburg.

In the nightcap, St. John's (18-1) jumped out to an 8-0 lead, then later had a 9-0 streak to finish the first with a 23-8 edge.

But Mercersburg (12-9) refused to quit, beginning the second quarter with a 9-1 run to pull within seven points with five minutes left in the half. Center Stephane Pelle had four points during the run, but picked up his third foul shortly after and finished the first half on the bench.

The Vikings took advantage with a 17-6 string to close out the half leading 41-23. Jason Capel had nine points in that span and ended with 29.

Damien Wilkins had 15 points and Jason Harris added 11 for St. John's.

Pelle finished with 15 points for Mercersburg.

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