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Gaels prepare to defend title

December 01, 2000

Gaels prepare to defend title



By DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer


St. Maria Goretti basketball coach Cokey Robertson rarely needs to motivate his team heading into the annual Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament on its own floor.

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When the Gaels take the floor tonight in the semifinal round of the 18th edition of the tournament, though, they'll really be ready to go. After all, they're the defending champions for the first time since 1988.

"That's the first thing I told them," Robertson said. "It's a big thing for them. But this is always a big thing for them. And it's not just us - the whole school gets involved making signs and everything."

This year, the Gaels may need everyone in the house against St. Edmund Prep of Brooklyn, N.Y., for tonight's second semifinal at 8. They lost eight seniors from last season and have lingering question marks about depth and experienced guard play despite a solid effort led by Derrick Davis during last weekend's two wins at the Palloti Tournament.

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Fans may need a program to sort out all the new names in the backcourt, but one big name remains for the Gaels - senior swingman Rodney Gibson.

" He's going to have to find a little passion for us," Robertson said. "He's the defending tournament MVP and has the ability to lead them into that realm and get us back into the final."

If Goretti gives itself another chance to defend its title Saturday night, it's another very big step forward very early in the year.

"You want to be comptietive and show you can play, then get a couple breaks do right thing at right time and knock people off," Robertson said. "We've certainly got the intent to win."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In the first semifinal, Dematha and its Hall of Fame coach, Morgan Wooten, take on Archbishop Carroll of Philadelphia at 6:30. The Stags, who beat Goretti 64-53 in a regular season contest last year, are led by 6-foot-10 Jordan Collins, who has committed to play at N.C. State.

Before that, a girls game between Goretti and St. John's at Prospect Hall starts at 4:45. The Gaels come off an 18-13 season and return four starters, while the Vikings are led by sophomore guard Kenan Cole, who averaged almost 15 points a game last season.

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