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Staying the course - Tanner, White will do same thing

April 19, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

On the basketball floor, St. Maria Goretti's Matt Tanner and St. John's at Prospect Hall's Aaron White have led their teams to successful seasons by doing exactly what they should be doing.

So with their college decisions on the line, both first-team All-Area selections figured they shouldn't change a thing at the next level.

Earlier this week, the two made the next step: Tanner to Division III powerhouse Catholic University, White to Division I Rider University in suburban New Jersey.

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"I just really liked the place, the coaching staff and what they like to do," said White, who averaged 14 points and six boards a game in a 24-win season for the Vikings. "They want me do a little bit of everything, like I did here. A little (shooting guard), a little (swing forward)."

White was part of the Vikings' second real senior class in the program's rebuilding process. After the national prominence of the mid-1990s, White and his teammates shouldered the burden of bringing the school back to respectability.

"At times, it was a little bit of pressure," White said. "But I was ready for that. We were looking forward to 25 wins this year, and we fell just one short of that.

"But I'm happy with the way I left. Coach Kelley does a great job, and we've gotten people to play hard and want to win. ... Now, I'm ready to get up there."

One of White's win this season was against Tanner and the Gaels, who fought past their critics despite losing the program's No. 2 all-time leading scorer. Tanner was named the Baltimore Catholic League's Player of the Year and finished his Goretti career as the school's No. 3 all-time leading scorer.

"It's close to home (in Washington), people can come down and see me," Tanner said. "In a big way, I wanted to prove people wrong ... and I knew we'd be competing for a national championship all four years. That really intrigued me."

The Cardinals were the 2000 NCAA champs and finished second in 2001. They also advanced to the sweet sixteen in 1998, 1999 and 2002. He'll be joined at the D.C. school by Goretti teammate Matt Spierenburg, but in the end, this move was one that fit just for him.

"This was more of a personal thing," Tanner said. "I felt there were some Division I schools that recruited me ... and for whatever reason it didn't work out.

"Coach (Mike) Lonergan did a good job of reminding me, 'Hey you can play ball.' I want them to do that, to say, 'Look at this kid at Catholic. Maybe we should have taken him.'"

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