In the end, it's St. John's at Prospect Hall

February 15, 1997


Staff Writer

ST. JAMES - In a game of this magnitude, the basketball is like gold and a team must go to any lengths to protect it. But no matter how hard Thomas Johnson tried to hold onto the treasure in the closing minutes against St. John's at Prospect Hall, the Vikings kept stealing the gold.

Four straight Patriots' turnovers sparked an 18-0 game-ending run as St. John's came back to defeat upset-minded Thomas Johnson, 63-49, in the semifinals of the St. James Invitational Tournament.

St. John's (19-1), ranked seventh in the country by USA Today, will face Mt. Zion, currently ranked No. 2, in tonight's championship game. The Warriors beat Oak Hill, 81-71, in the other semifinal matchup.


The Patriots (15-4) broke a 45-45 tie when Chad Dickman scored and was fouled on a drive to the basket. Dickman missed the free throw, but got his own rebound and was fouled again. This time, Dickman hit both shots to give TJ a 49-45 lead.

Jason Capel made two free throws to cut the lead to two. On their next possession, the Vikings misfired, but Dickman and Terence Morris both went for the rebound and neither could hold it. The ball fell to Damien Wilkins, who laid it in to tie the game.

It was all St. John's from that point on. Capel and Wilkins, along with Shike Lee, would close out the game's scoring while the Patriots rarely got a shot in the final three minutes.

"We had possessions in the end where we just didn't get shots off and that hurts you in games," said TJ coach Tom Dickman. "The score certainly wasn't indicative of the type of game it was. It was a great ballgame."

The Patriots led by as many as seven in the first quarter, but St. John's battled back in the second to tie the score at 18-18. Neither team led by more than five points until the Vikings' final run of the game.

"They played the type of game they wanted. They wanted to keep the score low, and they did that until the end," said St. John's coach Stu Vetter. "We wanted to play a full-court game, and they kept us out of that for a while."

Capel led the Vikings with 16 points and Wilkins added 13.

Hasheem Alexander had 15 points and Morris and Chad Dickman each had 13 for the Patriots.

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