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You're gonna carry that weight

St. Maria Goretti's Derrick Davis stepped into his role as leaderof the Gaels in a win over Nazareth in the opening round of the

St. Maria Goretti's Derrick Davis stepped into his role as leaderof the Gaels in a win over Nazareth in the opening round of the

December 02, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Derrick Davis wasted no time getting a solid grip on the reins of the Gaels.

Davis, a 6-foot senior guard and the key player returning from St. Maria Goretti's 2001-02 squad that went 24-11 and reached the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship game, had 15 points, nine assists, five rebounds and three steals - team highs in all four categories - as the Gaels defeated Nazareth (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 49-34 in the Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament on Friday night.

"I love it," Davis said of being the leader for this year's team. "This is a big challenge if we want to get back to the championship like we have the last two years."

"He knows he's got to carry us, and we know that, too," Goretti coach Cokey Robertson said after getting his 690th career victory, tops among active coaches in Maryland. "He did some excellent things on the court with his entire game, and that's Derrick."

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The Gaels had few problems with a Kingsmen squad lacking height and looking to play at a deliberate, calculating pace. Goretti kicked its transition game into gear and opened with a 15-5 run.

"We're quicker this year, and our main thing is to get out on the break," Davis said. "That's what we're looking for."

Knowing it couldn't match Goretti's speed, Nazareth took the air out of the ball, running their offensive sets even slower.

The strategy worked for a six-minute stretch of the first half, as the Gaels gambled and lost on several steal attempts and the Kingsmen capitalized on the open looks to cut the lead to 19-16 with four minutes left in the half.

"We did run early, and then we backed out of it when (Nazareth) did that," Robertson said.

But Steve Costello's 3-pointer started a 12-2 Gaels run to end the half, as Goretti found a comfort zone with its halfcourt offense. Costello had nine of his 11 points in the half.

Davis took over in the third quarter, scoring seven of Goretti's 13 points in the frame while the Gaels held Nazareth to four points, building a 43-22 lead.

"They didn't prove to us that they could hit the shot from the outside," Davis said. "So we sagged in the middle and boxed out."

Goretti played its reserves for almost all of the final quarter, resting the starters for today's championship.

In the opening game, St. Joseph's Prep showed why it is one of the premier teams in Philadelphia, using a balanced attack inside and outside to impressively handle Chambersburg, 83-48.

Mark Zoller showcased his all-around game. St. Joseph's center scored 19 points in a variety of ways both inside the paint and on the perimeter, while adding 12 rebounds, six steals and four blocks.

"He does everything for us," St. Joseph's coach Bill "Speedy" Morris said. "He was an All-Division player in Philly. He's a gamer, has a good nose for the ball, has good hands and can pass."

Shooting guard John Griffin added 20 points - including four 3-pointers - while point guard Chris Clark had 17 points for St. Joseph's.

"They're a nice club," Robertson said. "They cover a lot of the bases. They'll be a good measuring stick very quickly."

Chambersburg sophomore Chas Rahauser led the Trojans with nine points, while Daniel Baker had seven assists.

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