Oak Hill, Newport take fast lane to St. James finals

February 10, 2001|By DAN SPEARS

Oak Hill, Newport take fast lane to St. James finals

ST. JAMES - While everybody was in a rush Friday night during the winner's bracket games of the 28th St. James Invitational Tournament, two players stood out for their traffic control.

Newport point guard T.J. Thompson and his counterpart at Oak Hill, Billy Edelin, ran the transition game to perfection to lead their teams into tonight's championship game at 7:30.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In the first game, the Tigers again got back-to-back layups at the game's critical juncture to down nationally ranked Montrose Christian, 70-67.

Thursday against Thomas Johnson, Thompson and backcourt mate Gil Goodrich teamed up for a pair of steals and conversions to bury the Patriots. Friday against the Mustangs, they pulled the same trick.


Up 61-60, Newport survived two Montrose shots at the lead. Thompson grabbed the rebound on the second and threw it downcourt to a releasing Goodrich, who layed it in. On Montrose's next possession, Thompson stole the ball from Levi Watkins on a double team and again found Goodrich ahead of the pack for a 65-60 lead with 3:03 to play.

"That was the first thing we talked about," Newport coach Chris Chaney said. "They may have had the height advantage, but we had the quickness. T.J. ... we thought he was just faster than (Drew) Hall."

Montrose again whittled the lead back to 65-63 and this time had three shots to tie. Thompson was fouled with 8.7 seconds to play and guarding a 69-67 lead.

He made the first and missed the second, but Ulrich Kossekpa tipped the ball out to Thompson again. He missed two more free throws, but by the time Montrose could corral the rebound and call time, only .7 seconds remained. Thompson then intercepted the inbounds pass.

"We said before the game, 'We expect to win this,'" said Chaney, whose team is six spots behind Montrose in the metro Washington poll. "It just feels good to win this one."

Newport used its transition game to good effect early and led by as many as 15 in the first half. The Tigers still led by 10 with 3:31 left in the third quarter before the Mustangs rattled off a 17-5 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes to take a 58-56 lead. Montrose rallied behind Ryan Lambert and Levi Watkins, whose inside presence gobbled up offensive rebounds and led to 14 of those points.

"We did a good job fighting back," Montrose coach Stu Vetter said. "We showed a lot of heart and effort. Maybe it was just too much to get back into it and then keep control."

Goodrich led Newport with 20 points, while Thompson had 16 points and eight assists. For Montrose, Watkins finished with 22, but only three in the last six minutes. Hall had six assists.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In the nightcap, Oak Hill did an even better job in transition than Newport had done in the first game. After every miss or make by National Christian, Edelin and the Warriors were off, essentially turning the game into a 5-on-3 contest and running to a 111-77 victory over the Eagles.

"We like to get up and down. We play better then because Billy makes such great decisions with the ball in transition," Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. "And they all finish so well in the transition situations."

West Virginia University signee Jonathan Hargett got the most publicity because of his local connection, but Edelin (committed to Syracuse) and backcourt mate Rashaad Carruth (Kentucky) stole his thunder.

Carruth went off for 34 points, including 12 straight in the game's backbreaking run during the second quarter. He made six 3-pointers, five in the first half.

Hargett, meanwhile, couldn't duplicate his 33-point masterpiece of Thursday. His ball skills wowed the crowd, but his perimeter jumper caused nothing but groans most of the night. He finished with just 15 points.

"We changed a couple of guys on him, but didn't do a whole lot - no box-and-1, no triangle-and-2," Smith said. "We just stayed on him and hoped to make him pass. We didn't think the rest of the team could beat us."

Edelin and Mario Boggan both finished with 22 points for Oak Hill. Charlie Bell led National Christian with 19 points.

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