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Spalding proves too much for Gaels

January 26, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

The Rudy Gay entourage, better known as Archbishop Spalding, came to town Sunday, but it was one of those players that doesn't get a lot of notice who helped make it a sour weekend at home for St. Maria Goretti.

Marquis Sullivan knocked down 13 of his 17 points in the second period, sparking the Cavaliers to a 55-45 win over the Gaels in a Baltimore Catholic League game at the Gael Center.

Goretti lost its second game in three days to one of the BCL's elite teams. Second-place Spalding (17-3, 7-1) sent the Gaels (10-10, 1-7) downward after Friday's loss to league-leading Mount St. Joseph.

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Sullivan's outburst helped Spalding overcome a sluggish start, stretching a one-point lead after the first period to a 32-19 halftime edge.

Certainly the 6-foot-8 Gay, who will take his talents to the University of Connecticut next year, always is and was the center of attraction. However, he was a lackluster 1-for-5 and saw bench duty for nearly three minutes of the opening period.

If not for six turnovers, the Gaels might have been in a better position than their 11-10 deficit after the first eight minutes due mainly to Joey Spierenburg's six points.

Sullivan hit two baskets that were answered by back-to-back hoops by Goretti's Mike Nelson that made it 17-16 early in the second frame before Goretti turnovers and missed shots left Spalding with a lead it never lost.

On three successive possessions, Goretti had an opportunity to take a lead only to see poor passing and concentration keep them from doing so.

Sullivan countered with three straight baskets, including a 3-pointer after a pair of foul shots by Gay, and the Cavaliers were in the comfort zone at halftime.

"We had our chances but we just lose some intensity and concentration and you just can't do that against a team the caliber of Spalding," Goretti coach Cokey Robertson said.

The Gaels held the turnover count down to three in the third period and made a charge that whittled away the Spalding lead to 38-32 at the 3:55 mark of the third period when Nelson and Spierenburg each knocked down two buckets.

After a Spalding timeout, Gay took over for the Cavaliers with an NBA-range 3-pointer from the top of the arc and two more baskets that put the Gaels down 45-34 after three.

"Rudy is a very unselfish player that likes to pass the basketball and see his teammates do well," Spalding coach Mike Glick said. "He's a humble person."

Gay ended with a quiet 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting and added five rebounds. He excited the crowd with a pair of dunks, one a backboard-shaker from along the baseline. Gay was also used extensively at the top of a 2-3 trapping zone, making it extremely difficult for the Goretti guards to run the offense efficiently.

"He's got such a wide wingspan that he takes up two passing lanes," Robertson said. "We played hard enough to win, we just didn't play well enough to win."

The Gaels shot 51 percent (19 of 37) but failed to cash in on free throw opportunities in the first half (3 of 7) that would have been beneficial. They finished 6-for-13 from the line.

Spierenburg led Goretti with 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting, while Nelson added 12 points (6 of 7) and a team-high eight rebounds.

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