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Gaels force past Vikings

February 05, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

The Gael Center is becoming the place where No. 2-ranked teams go to lose.

Six days after dismantling then-No. 2 Martinsburg, No. 6 St. Maria Goretti took apart another of the area's best teams, turning up the defense on No. 2 St. John's at Prospect Hall over the final three quarters and riding Derrick Davis' 27 points to a 57-42 victory Tuesday night.

"The confidence keeps going up," Davis said. "We've beaten every team in the area that we've played, and we want some respect in the county."

Thanks to the hot shooting of Brandon Monroe - who scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the first quarter - St. John's (15-8) had a 19-18 lead after eight minutes. Monroe made three 3-pointers in the quarter as the Vikings converted on open jump shot opportunities.

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But the Gaels (15-13) shut down those open looks for the final 24 minutes and got on the glass for a 32-20 rebounding edge to hold off St. John's.

"We turned the spigot off and played some defense," Gaels coach Cokey Robertson said. "It was one shot and done from that point on."

Davis took over on the offensive end. The 6-foot senior once again played bigger than his size, driving inside the Vikings' defense or slashing inside without the ball to receive passes. He scored 16 of his points in the second half as Goretti turned a two-point halftime lead into a runaway.

"He does so many ... things," Robertson said. "You don't get a player very often who does that many things. He plays 6-6 at times, 5-10 at times, he plays point guard for us, too."

Joey Breslin had 11 points and reserve forward Mike Nelson added eight points, including two key points at the end of the third quarter, for Goretti.

After Davis sunk two foul shots, Nelson stole the inbounds pass in the lane, dribbled once and made a short jumper at the buzzer to put the Gaels up by 10 heading into the fourth.

"We were trying to back off and make sure they don't hit a 3-pointer on us, and he steals it and scores for us," Robertson said.

"At half, it's a two-point game," Vikings coach Bruce Kelley said. "At the end of the third quarter, they're up six. We give up a two-shot foul with 4 seconds left, then we went brain dead on the in-bounds. ... We're now 10 points down, and you could see the energy was way down in the fourth quarter."

Davis put the final nails in the coffin, scoring Goretti's first seven points of the fourth quarter in a 7-2 run.

"Our guys are coming this way," Davis said, bringing his cupped hands closer together. "You can see them bonding together to win."

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