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Vikings try to ship in a rival

February 14, 2002

Vikings try to ship in a rival



By DAN SPEARS


The St. John's at Prospect Hall boys basketball team could have looked at Tuesday night's game with St. Maria Goretti as great preparation for this weekend's St. James Invitational Tournament.

For those in Vikings green and gold, there wasn't a chance of that happening.

"We always say that things are going to be tough," St. John's guard Jered Lyons said after a 43-40 victory. "But we really needed this."

Why? The two teams aren't in the same league and don't have the longest history in the world, even though they're the two major private schools in central Maryland.

Actually, that's exactly why. The Vikings want it all with somebody - anybody. As an independent program with no natural rivals, the Vikings are on the lookout.

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And they want Goretti.

"A rivalry with them can happen," St. John's coach Bruce Kelley said. "We're good, and they're good. Hopefully we can be good every year like they have been."

Rivalry is what makes sports fun. It's why people paint their faces every color of the rainbow, why that "Strawberry Shortcake, Banana Split ..." cheer was so funny in high school. (If you don't know that one, you really missed out.)

It's why people own "I love the Red Sox and whoever's playing the Yankees" bumper stickers.

Back when St. John's was a national powerhouse, anyone and everyone wanted to be the rival ... "Holy cow man! We beat Prospect Hall!"

Getting a home-and-home series wasn't much of a problem. Now, it's about as futile as your basic math geek, pocket protector and all, getting a date for the senior prom.

It just ain't happenin'.

It's not like this team stinks, either. St. John's owns a 20-5 record going into St. James today - with just six home games.

The Vikings have been everywhere to play: Washington, Baltimore, Richmond, Va., Georgetown, Westminster, Urbana, Cumberland. Playing at McSherry Gymnasium, that's another story.

Which is why Tuesday's game with the Gaels could be a stepping stone.

As we all know, Goretti coach Cokey Robertson will take on all comers. Tuesday night, he took on St. John's and lost.

For the Gaels, though, it's another step in a long road. They're in the home stretch of their run through the Baltimore Catholic League, where they've created plenty of rivalries with similar schools.

If St. John's could get into the league, which is a possibility with the addition of McDonogh from the IAAM, this rivalry could be born in earnest.

"That'd be nice," Robertson said.

Then neither one of them would have to look past - or for - each other.

Dan Spears is a staff writer at The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2334 or dans@herald-mail.com

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