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Oak Hill wins SJIT

February 14, 1999|By MARK KELLER

ST. JAMES - Notre Dame Academy did exactly what Steve Smith was hoping they would do.

When the Oak Hill Academy coach saw Notre Dame switch to a half-court trap defense in the second half Saturday, he might as well have licked his lips.

The Warriors, the No. 1 team in the nation, stepped around, over and under the Notre Dame trap, but rarely into it as they beat the Dragons 91-66 in the championship game of the 26th Annual St. James Invitational Tournament.

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"When they went to their half-court trap, I felt pretty good," Smith said. "The players did, too. When teams do that to us, we usually pick them apart. I thought we picked it apart and that kind of got us the cushion we needed."

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It's the third SJIT championship for Oak Hill (29-0). The Warriors won back-to-back titles in 1993 and '94.

Oak Hill led 37-28 at the half, but Notre Dame cut the deficit to five points in the opening minute of the third quarter.

That's when the Dragons changed to their half-court trap. And that's when the Warriors began to carve up the defense, going on a 20-4 run that gave them a 57-36 lead late in the period.

"They took a lot of 3s, a lot of quick shots and they weren't getting any second chances," Smith said. "And we played a lot better defensively, forced a lot of jump shots. I don't think a team's gonna beat us shooting jump shots all night."

Terry Reynolds led Oak Hill with 25 points. Ronald Slay added 21 and Cliff Hawkins had 13.

Jamaal Gilchrist had 18 points and Ben Bates 14 for Notre Dame.

Thomas Johnson 90, Montrose Christian 73

Marcus West made the best of his opportunities Friday night. On Saturday, he did it all over again.

The Thomas Johnson sophomore followed up a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against Oak Hill with a 22-point night as the Patriots, No. 1 in The Herald-Mail poll, clinched third place in the St. James Invitational Tournament.

"Marcus just played great. He played absoluely great," said TJ coach Tom Dickman. "Not just scoringwise, but he rebounded. And (Friday) night he did the same thing, rebounding against those big guys."

West was quiet in the first half, scoring just three points as the Patriots (18-1) built a 42-35 lead at the intermission.

But in the second half, when Montrose closed the gap to three points, West found his direction. He scored 15 of TJ's 23 points in the third period, including 10 in a 12-1 run that gave the Patriots a 65-50 advantage to start the fourth.

TJ led by no less than 13 the rest of the way.

Chris Williams had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Patriots. Michael Foreman had 15 points and seven assists and Joe Higbee came off the bench to score 14.

"We got big contributions from everybody up and down the line," Dickman said. "There's no question this was a big win for us because of the quality of the team and what we had to do to get control of the game."

St. James 70, Bishop McNamara 56

For the second year in a row, a scheduling snafu forced McNamara to send its JV team to the final day of the SJIT.

By the way the young Mustangs started the game, one wouldn't have known this wasn't the varsity squad.

McNamara jumped out to a 10-point lead before St. James got on the scoreboard and led 15-4 at the end of the first period.

It took a 10-1 run midway through to get the Saints (14-6) into the game, cutting the Mustangs' lead to 19-16. McNamara led 24-18 at the half.

"It's everybody's worst nightmare," said St. James coach Wayne Ridenour. "You're playing against guys we knew were pretty good athletes, just young. But the kids hear JV and they think these guys can't play."

It took Ridenour reminding some of his players of their age at halftime to get his point across.

"I told them at halftime, 'Look at you guys. We've got four guys here the same age as them,'" Ridenour said. "There's no differenceexcept ours are playing with four guys older. You just have to play hard."

And the No. 4 Saints did in the second half. After trading baskets with the Mustangs to start the third quarter, McNamara committed eight straight turnovers, leading to an 18-0 run and 38-26 lead for St. James.

"That came out of straight man-to-man and playing hard," Ridenour said. "We went out and got stuff off our defense and moved the ball better."

The Mustangs pulled within five points in the fourth quarter, but the Saints closed out the game on a 13-4 run.

Chris Acker led St. James with 16 points. Larry Scott added 15 and Billy Keyes had 14.

Mercersburg 78, St. Vincent-St. Mary 65

The Fighting Irish scored the first two points of the game, but Mercersburg countered with a 23-8 run on its way to an easy victory in the seventh-place game.

The early lead helped alleviate the problem Mercersburg faced on the tournament's first two days - a pressure defense.

St. Vincent's lack of scoring kept it from setting up a full-court press, which had been the downfall of the No. 5 Blue Storm (16-6) on the tournament's first two days.

And when the Fighting Irish were able to put pressure on Mercersburg, the Blue Storm handled it with minimal problems.

"They didn't feel as panicked," said Mercersburg coach Tony Tucker. "I challenged our perimeter people to step up and go at people and they did a good job of that. It was like night and day today compared to the other two days here."

Mercersburg's big-man tandem led the way. Kareem Wright had 25 points and Stephane Pelle added 24.

Maverick Carter led the Fighting Irish with 28 points and John King added 17.

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