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Gaels pound Cougars

February 22, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

St. Maria Goretti boys basketball coach Cokey Robertson has been stressing to his team this month that the basketball must be shot in order to score more points.

Generally, that is not a new concept in basketball. What's new for the Gaels is that some players are listening.

The Goretti offense has perked up since the start of February and it hit high gear Saturday with an 81-40 thrashing of Jefferson at the Gael Center.

The Gaels are 7-2 this month, elevating their record to 16-13 after their fourth straight win heading into today's Baltimore Catholic League season finale at home against Calvert Hall.

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"We've been telling the players if you shoot more and take better shots, the points will come," Robertson said. "They've been finding out what happens when you shoot well."

The No. 7 Gaels continued up the ladder in point production with a third straight season-high point total against Jefferson (4-13), a team that battled Martinsburg last Thursday before losing by eight points.

The first half was beautiful for Goretti and ugly for Jefferson. Corey Tornetta opened with a 3-pointer from the left corner and Mike Nelson followed with two baskets as the Gaels rolled to a 20-2 lead at the end of the first period.

Goretti's lead jumped to 28-2 before Jefferson scored five straight points. The Gaels then reeled off 15 straight points - 11 from Nelson - to take a 43-7 lead at halftime.

"We were the total opposite today than the Martinsburg game," Jefferson coach Scott Douglass said. "We had no heart today, (Goretti) shot the lights out of the ball and at the same time sensed our weakness. We were easy picking."

Goretti shot 60 percent in the opening half including 8 of 13 by Nelson as he finished with 17 of his game-high 21 points in the first 16 minutes.

"We've been looking to improve the offense the last month," Nelson said. "We've been trying to play harder and I think we've gotten to know each one better as far as strengths and weaknesses."

The Gaels continued their torrid shooting in the second half, especially in the final eight minutes with a three-point barrage that included a 6 of 10 display. Tornetta and Tim Kellinger each hit twice and the missiles also included one by seldom-used Mickey McGarity, which drew a huge roar from the Goretti sideline.

Tornetta finished with a season-high 16 points and Joey Spierenberg added 15 including a pair of slam dunks. Spierenburg also had 11 rebounds as Goretti dominated the boards, 42-29. As a team Goretti blocked six shots by Jefferson, which ended 16-for-56 from the floor.

Freshman Ryland Newman scored all nine of his points in the second half for Jefferson to join Devin Terris as team leaders. Newman also had seven rebounds.

"If we can continue we can be a force here at the end of the season," Robertson said as the Gaels will prepare for the rugged Baltimore Catholic League tournament next Friday after the conclusion of the regular season.

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