Gaels blows North Catholic aside in MAIT

November 27, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

There is nothing wrong with the information you are about to read.

St. Maria Goretti played an up-tempo basketball game from the opening whistle. The Gaels even came out of the locker room at halftime and did not suffer a downfall in the third quarter.

To top things off, the scoreboard for the home team zoomed into the stratosphere as the Gaels defeated Philadelphia North Catholic 78-67 in the nightcap of the first day of the 22nd annual MAIT on Friday night.

Even senior guard Tim Kellinger, who tossed in 16 points, said afterward the players were somewhat surprised to see 78 points on the scoreboard.


"We've been trying to run in practice and we've got eight guys that we aren't going to harness," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson, beginning his 31st season.

As comforting as the victory was, it put the Gaels in a match against powerful Gonzaga (D.C.) - a 61-57 winner over Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) - tonight in the championship game, following the consolation at 6 between North Catholic and Bishop Loughlin.

The Gaels trailed 2-0 when Kevin Brashears sank a shot from the top of the key to set off the annual string of toilet paper from the student section honoring the first basket of the season.

They honored many more as the Gaels jumped to a 10-4 lead on two straight baskets by Kellinger and a Joey Spierenburg turnaround at the 4:36 mark.

Kellinger, a senior and part of Goretti's starting four-guard alignment, shared top scoring honors with junior Andy Chambers, each with 16 points.

"Coach came to me Wednesday and said I was going to start," Kellinger said. "I think our transition game set the tone for us tonight and that forced them go to a zone."

Robertson said Kellinger was "rewarded for his good practices. He's been a real leader for us and really been focused."

Avoiding any notion of a slow start in the third quarter, the Gaels advanced a 36-31 lead to 43-32 with 5:34 remaining when Trevor Cobb juiced up the crowd with a corner 3-pointer. Spierenburg made sure the Gaels kept the upper hand with eight of his 13 points in the period.

North Catholic, playing without several players who just finished the football season Thursday according to coach Mike McCarron, tried valiantly to get back into the game in the fourth quarter.

John Adamski hit a pair of 3s and the Falcons were within 59-57 with 4:25 to play. The combination of Adamski and Nate Edwards inside seemed to give the Falcons momentum.

However, Goretti's Andy Chambers hit a key basket and then two free throws, and moments later the Gaels moved their margin back to 69-59 with 1:32 to play when Spierenburg scored on a baseline drive and Chambers sank two more free throws.

""I'm extremely pleased for the first game to win," said Robertson. "We had decent shot selection."

Spierenburg finished with 13 points and Gene Johnson tallied 11 in his Goretti debut, along with six rebounds.

Goretti shot 26 of 42 from inside, arc and 3 of 6 from long distance and was guilty of only eight turnovers, compared to 14 for North Catholic, which shot 21 of 56.

Edwards powered his way for 22 points, including 9 of 15 from the line, while Adamski ended with 18 points, hitting 6 of 17 hots from the field.

n In the opener, Gonzaga broke open a 44-44 tie after three quarters with a dominant inside game spearheaded by Paul Johnson's 27-point, 12-rebound performance.

Notes: Goretti's win assured the MAIT champion will not be from Philadelphia. St. Joseph's Prep won the last two years and Archbishop Carroll won in 2001. ... College scouts from LaSalle and Fairfield Universities were in attendance. ... Goretti last won the MAIT in 1999, while Gonzaga won it 1992 and 1989.

The Herald-Mail Articles