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Milestone eludes Goretti coach

January 27, 2003|By DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

Cokey's Crazies, dozens of alumni and several former players packed the Gael Center on Friday night hoping to see longtime St. Maria Goretti boys basketball coach Cokey Robertson get his 700th win.

The milestone, however, will have to wait.

Tim Brackney made all four of his 3-pointers in a crucial stretch to end the third quarter, and Archbishop Spalding made 10 of 13 foul shots in the fourth to hold off the determined Gaels 55-51, delaying history until at least Sunday.

"We had an electric crowd, had a lot of guys back tonight," Robertson said. "Everything worked out but the (darn) win."

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It was not for a lack of trying.

Spalding outscored Goretti 10-2 in the first quarter and led 17-6 after Rudy Gay's alley-oop dunk. But the Gaels dug in behind Joey Breslin, who scored eight of Goretti's 17 points in the first half as Goretti (10-13, 1-7) trailed by seven at halftime.

Goretti closed the gap to four twice in the third quarter, the second on Joey Spierenburg's baseline jumper with just under four minutes left in the quarter.

That's when Brackney got hot. He made two 3s from the right wing on Spalding's next two possessions, answered Breslin's ensuing 3 with another, then hit his final 3 with five seconds left in the quarter to give Spalding a 41-30 lead.

"Cokey's philosophy is to pack it in and make us shoot from outside," Spalding coach Mike Glick said. "Tim is our best outside shooter, and I'm proud of the way he came to the ball and looked for the shot."

Once again, the Gaels would not wilt, starting the fourth with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to five. Breslin had eight points in the quarter and Derrick Davis added seven in the frame - including a deep 3 from the left wing with 55 seconds left that cut the lead to 51-47.

But Spalding made 9 of 10 free throws in the final two minutes - enough to keep Goretti at bay.

"The last time we played them, they beat us by 16, but they scored the last 12 points or something, so we knew we could play with them," Breslin said. "We wanted to get (Cokey) 700 here at home, but we'll go on the road and get it for him."

"That's a big-league team we played tonight," Robertson said. "I've been doing this for 41 years, and that's the hardest I've ever had a team play for me."

Breslin finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Davis had 15 points, five assists and four steals.

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