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MAIT opens area basketball season

November 26, 1998|By MARK KELLER

St. Maria Goretti athletic director and basketball coach Cokey Robertson had to give up some of the quantity when organizing this year's Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament.

But he certainly didn't give up any of the quality.

The 16th Annual MAIT begins tonight at Goretti with just a four-team field after a rules change in Pennsylvania dictated that Chambersburg High School could not play its first game until next week.

--cont. from sports page--

"They found out at the last minute they couldn't open," Robertson said. "It was late anyhow, so we either had to start over or go with four teams. The team from Philadelphia was hedging anyway, so we just said, 'Forget it.'"

But the four teams who will be in town boast impressive credentials that should more than make up for the missing teams.

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Defending Baltimore Catholic League champion Towson Catholic goes against Good Counsel, ranked No. 9 in USA Today's preseason poll, in tonight's first game. Tipoff is at 6:30.

Host Goretti faces defending MAIT champion Holy Cross (N.Y.) in the nightcap.

Good Counsel returns four starters from last year's 22-7 team, and five players have committed to NCAA Division I schools. Roger Mason (signed with Virginia) averaged 18.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. Chris Monroe (George Washington) averaged 18.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. A.J. Harris (College of Charleston), Earl Hunt (Brown) and Joe Truhe (Yale) are the other Division I signees.

"They've got a couple of big leaguers. Those are some big basketball schools," Robertson said. "The guys out of the BCL told me to try to get them."

Towson Catholic split its two meetings with Goretti last year. Each team won on its own court: Goretti, 61-52; Towson, 62-61.

The Owls, No. 5 in the Baltimore metro area, won the Charm City Classic and the BCL Tournament last season. Keith Jenifer, the team's leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, was the Most Valuable Player of the Charm City Classic.

"They won the BCL, were the league rep at the Alhambra, and they return everybody from last year," Robertson said. "They're not real big, but you'll have to play some defense against them. They'll try to spread the floor, try to spread the defense."

Holy Cross returns just three players from last year's championship squad, only one of whom saw action in last year's tournament.

"They lost a good nucleus from last year, but they have three pretty good lettermen coming back," Robertson said. "But you're not gonna get any clinks from the New York Catholic League. We're gonna have to play very well to beat them."

The Gaels will rely on the return of Jamie Rice, Anthony Sowers, Lee Green and Brad Runkles, and a deep bench to carry them to their first MAIT title since 1987.

Rice led the Gaels with 13.5 points per game. Green and Runkles followed close behind with 12.9 and 12.6.

"They know what has to be done," Roberston said. "This is a tough start to a tough schedule for us. It's not going to take long for us to see how we're going to do."

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