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Gaels ride momentum

January 27, 1999

Goretti vs. MartinsburgBy MARK KELLER / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




It's become a pattern for St. Maria Goretti: Start slowly in the first quarter, pick up steam in the second and use a run to put distance between itself and its opponents.

Certainly not the way coach Cokey Robertson would like for his Gaels to play, but it's been effective.

No. 1 Goretti got its run in the second quarter Tuesday, outscoring Martinsburg 18-4 in the period on its way to a 72-51 win over the No. 7 Bulldogs at Goretti.

[cont. from sports page]

"We just had a little talk about that," Robertson said. "Somehow, every time they dig back in and get it. I'd like it if they'd play 32 minutes rather than 24."

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It wasn't as if the Gaels (21-2) had to climb very far to get back into the game. Martinsburg led by one, 13-12, at the end of the first period, thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off the glass by Tyler Boswell.

A putback by Michael Wright gave the Bulldogs (7-4) a 15-12 advantage as the second quarter began. But Goretti scored the next six points for an 18-15 lead, then turned up the defensive pressure with a zone press to force three straight Martinsburg turnovers.

Eric Gibson put back a missed free throw to cut the Bulldogs' deficit to 18-17. But Martinsburg turned the ball over on six of its last seven possessions, and the Gaels converted the miscues into 12 points for a 30-17 lead at the intermission.

"We're not used to seeing guys that big in a zone press," said Martinsburg coach Vic Holmes. "You have to learn to adjust to that. We adjusted tonight by turning the ball over."

The Bulldogs' line in the second quarter - nine turnovers, 0 of 2 from the free-throw line and 2 of 7 from the field. Martinsburg did not take a shot in the final three minutes of the quarter.

"They made a lot of errors, and we picked up the defense. That really opened up the gap in the game," Robertson said. "We were changing the defense on them every time down."

An 8-2 run to start the second half got Martinsburg within 32-25. But five points apiece from Jamie Rice, Anthony Sowers and Chip Chambers led a 17-3 string by the Gaels for a 49-28 cushion after three quarters.

Rice led Goretti with 19 points, six assists and five steals. Rodney Gibson had 12 points and eight rebounds, Lee Green had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Sowers had nine points.

Shannon Layton and Eric Gibson each had 11 points for Martinsburg, while Wright had 10.

"I don't have any problem with our play at all tonight," Holmes said. "We look at our schedule and see Woodrow Wilson, Goretti, Chambersburg ... those are the teams we're shooting for.

"We want to step up and see if we can take their punches," Holmes added. "I think, other than the second quarter, we took it tonight."

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