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Blue Storm insiders turned out

February 12, 1999|By MARK KELLER

ST. JAMES - Tony Tucker knew it was only a matter of time before the opposition caught on.

The Mercersburg Academy coach had no doubt that when Montrose Christian raelized the Blue Storm had little experience on the perimeter, the Mustangs would do their best to exploit that.

Montrose caught on before the half and applied the pressure in the third quarter, outscoring Mercersburg 20-10 in the period on its way to a 67-52 win in the first round of the St. James invitational Tournament on Thursday.

"I thought we played as well as we could play without that experienced player on the perimeter that can take care of the ball," Tucker said. "I mean, we've got the best big man anywhere, and if we can get the ball into him, we're fine. But our guards are young."

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The Blue Storm (15-5) led 30-26 at the break and extended the lead to 37-32 with two minutes gone in the third quarter.

That's when the floor dropped out from under Mercersburg. The Blue Storm missed their next three shots and turned the ball over four times as the Mustangs (23-1) took a 38-37 lead.

Kareem Wright put back an offensive rebound as Mercersburg briefly regained the lead at 39-38. But a 3-pointer by Marvin Lewis, who led all scorers with 25 points, moved Montrose in front for good with 1:51 left.

"We play to our strengths, which is our depth, our athleticism," said Montrose coach Kevin Sutton. "We want to keep pressure on them and make it into more of a full-court game instead of a half-court game. I thought in the latter part of the game, we took advantage of our strengths."

In the first quarter, it was the Blue Storm who took advantage of its strengths, scoring 11 of the game's first 13 points by powering the ball inside to Wright.

But Wright picked up his third foul with two minutes left in the period and sat the remainder of the first half.

"Kareem's playing great right now. Nobody could guard him," Tucker said. "Unfortunately, he got those early fouls. We could have padded our lead a little going into them pressing us and that would have helped us a lot with Kareem in there."

Wes Miller led Mercersburg with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Wright had 14 and Stephane Pelle added 12.

* Montrose will face Notre Dame Academy in the semifinals tonight at 7 p.m. Notre Dame beat Bishop McNamara 68-56 in another first-round game.

That game will feature a matchup between Sutton, a former assistant coach under Stu Vetter at St. John's at Prospect Hall, and Notre Dame junior Sherrod Teasley, who played at St. John's under Vetter.

Teasley led Notre Dame with 16 points, Jamaal Gilchrist had 15 and Shelton Hawkins 14.

Wendell Dixon led all scorers with 22 for Bishop McNamara. Chazz Perry added 13.

Mercersburg plays McNamara at 4 in today's first consolation bracket game.

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