Goretti presses the issue

December 10, 1998

Jefferson vs. GorettiBy DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

St. Maria Goretti senior Brianne Hamilton put the pressure on her teammates Wednesday night against Jefferson before the game started and got moderate results.

Then Hamilton decided to put the pressure on Jefferson during the game.

Playing the point on a full-court press and a half-court trap, Hamilton worked the Cougars for seven steals that led to five assists and 22 points, as the No. 6 Gaels pulled away for a 57-44 victory in the Apple Valley League opener for both teams.

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"No one was really up before the game," Hamilton said after the team's fourth game in five days. "We were a little tired.


"But this was the league opener, and that's what we play for, that banner over there," she said, pointing to the 1998 championship flag.

Goretti (5-0) had 13-4 and 22-12 leads, using its press to rattle the Cougars in their season opener. But with 5:30 left in the second quarter, Gaels coach Gary Carter - who has only eight players on his roster - went to a 2-3 zone.

"We just wanted to try to give them a different look," Carter said. "We also wanted to stay out of foul trouble and just rest for a couple of trips."

Goretti ended up resting on its heels. Jefferson's Sarah Hoffman-Benadom (13 points) cut through the zone's holes and scored six points in the last 4:30 of the first half when Jefferson cut the lead to 26-20.

After the break, she passed off as the Cougars hit five of six - all 17-foot jumpers - to start the third quarter and take a 30-28 lead with 3:58 left in the third.

Was the pressure getting to the Gaels? No, it was about to get to the Cougars.

Carter put the half-court trap back on with 3:08 left in the quarter, and the 6-foot Hamilton immediately stole the ball and converted to knot the score, 30-30.

"We like to match her up with smaller guards (Jefferson's Jiketta Underwood was 5-5) and get her out on the fast break," Carter said. "We like seeing a six-footer on their guards."

Jefferson kept it close (33-32 at three quarters) before Hamilton worked a pair of sevens to crap out the Cougars.

She hit two 3-pointers to open a seven-point lead, then harassed the Cougars into seven fourth-quarter turnovers - and just four shots in the quarter - as the Gaels pulled away.

"We were shooting well, but I can't remember us shooting in the fourth quarter," Jefferson coach Cheryl Roberts said. "Just taking one would have been nice.

Amy Edwards had 11 and Melissa Rakes 10 for the Cougars. Goretti's Jen Piccolomini had six steals and 18 points, the final two coming off - appropriately - an assist from Hamilton.

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