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Trojans edge Gaels by 1 at MAIT

November 29, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

After St. Joseph's Prep of Philadelphia methodically dispatched Roanoke (Va.) Catholic, the Gael Center was not the location for those faint of heart on opening night of the 21st annual Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament.

With a raucous crowd portraying a tournament atmosphere, Chambersburg etched out a thrilling 44-43 victory over St. Maria Goretti in the nightcap after St. Joseph's rolled over Roanoke in the opener, 79-50.

Chambersburg will make its first appearance in the championship game since 1995 against St. Joseph's, the defending champion, tonight following the consolation game between Goretti and Roanoke, which tips off at 6 p.m.

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"This was a great win for us given this type of experience playing at Goretti and under these circumstances," Chambersburg coach Shawn Shreffler said. "We're happy how we competed and kept our composure."

Senior Maurice Barbour hit a go-ahead basket on a 12-foot shot in the paint with 2:26 to play that gave the Trojans a 42-41 lead, topping a night of up-and-down momentum swings.

"Everybody contributed for us tonight," Barbour said. "We executed pretty well .. we just couldn't make a lot of shots."

Alan Bender made it 44-41 with a baseline drive after a Goretti turnover, and the Gaels' Mike Nelson answered with a bucket in the lane with 1:20 remaining.

After Bender missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Gaels' last possession resulted in a lunging baseline shot by sophomore Andy Chambers.

With less than 10 seconds remaining, Goretti stole the ball and tried to call a timeout with five seconds to play but the effort was to no avail.

"We were shaky at the start and again after halftime," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson. "We played respectable defense and so was our rebounding, but our shot selection was not satisfactory at all and we didn't get the ball inside enough."

The momentum ride started with Chambersburg pushing out to a 12-2 lead at the outset of the contest as Colby Nitterhouse hit eight of his team-high 11 points.

Goretti charged back at the outset of the second quarter on a six-point splurge by senior Mike Nelson and a basket by junior Corey Tornetta to manufacture a 14-13 lead which extended to 26-20 at halftime.

However, as was the case many times a year ago, Goretti came out of the lockers stale in the third quarter as it went scoreless for the first five minutes while Chambersburg forged a 32-26 advantage in which Jonathan Motichka and Dan Baker scored five points each.

Goretti came back from a five-point deficit early in the fourth on a pair of baskets by Nelson and free throws by Chambers and Joey Spierenburg for a 41-40 lead.

Motichka support the Trojan cause with 10 points and Nitterhouse also added six rebounds and five steals. Nelson led Goretti with 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Goretti held a 31-23 margin on the boards.

Goretti managed 17 of 36 from the floor while Chambersburg was 17 of 43.

St. Joseph's Prep, with senior co-captain guards John Griffin and Chris Clark clicking in tandem, rolled to a 24-10 lead after the first period and never looked back at Roanoke, making its first appearance in the MAIT.

Griffin and Clark scored 21 and 19 points respectively and Reggie Redding hit for 20 from the inside for the Hawks, along with 14 rebounds. Roanoke's 6-foot-7 Paulius Morkeliunas led the Celtics with 23 points and nine rebounds.

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