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Vikings shoot out the lights, down the Saints

February 24, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - Thank goodness the lights above the basketball floor at McSherry Gym weren't in the way of the 3-point missiles coming from the St. John's at Prospect Hall launching pad Monday night.

On the floor, Al Sowers and Jered Lyons were busy punching the lights out on St. James with 10 3-pointers as the Vikings were devilish on the Saints, 81-44.

The Vikings (11-17) took no prisoners in the battle of private schools as they broke a four-game losing streak while handing the Saints their sixth straight defeat.

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Sowers and Lyons celebrated their final home appearance in grand style, which included Sowers reaching the 1,000-point plateau on a steal and layup with 1:30 remaining in the first half.

But it was the 3s, along with 27 turnovers, that did in St. James (7-14).

Lyons, who missed six weeks earlier in the season with a hand injury, pelted the Saints with six baskets from beyond the arc as part of his game-high 24 points. Sowers added four treys, all from the baseline, on the way to a 22-point game.

"Naturally you are going to be down," Lyons said of his inactivness during the injury. "I got to do some things around the house and was able to think of the positives that would come out of the injury when I got back."

The return of Lyons takes pressure off Sowers, as opposing teams were able to key solely on him in Lyons' absence.

"Jered being back makes us so much a better team," said Sowers, who missed last season with mononucleosis. "We're complete with him .. we struggled when he was gone."

All told, the Vikings put up nearly as many shots from behind the line as in front, going 10-for-27 from the arc and 21-for-30 (70 percent) from inside it.

"It's by design. When you have two kids that can shoot the lights out you design your offense around them," St. John's coach Bruce Kelley said. "Having Jered back took the pressure off Al. Jered is the spiritual leader of this team with his infectious enthusiasm."

Coupled with a hands-on defense that trapped St. James at halfcourt and terrified the Saints around the paint, SJPH forced nine turnovers in the opening eight minutes on the way to a 20-7 lead as Lyons scored seven points.

Lyons had 13 and Sowers 10 by halftime when the Vikings opened up a 39-19 margin. At the break, SJPH had scored 22 of its points off 15 Saints turnovers.

As the Saints hustled through their debacle, coach Patrick Gahan continued to prod on his troops, led by junior Matt Greissing (14 points) and senior Jordan Ottley (12 points).

St. James' energy level matched that of SJPH and the crowd, but Gahan said it was a case of what he's seen most of the season.

"Turnovers ... we just have not taken care of the ball all year," he said. "Not being patient keeps catching up with us. These kids work hard, I love coaching them, and we'll just try to find a way to win the last two games."

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