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Johnson's fling allows Gaels to party

November 26, 2005|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

The packed house at the Gael Center got an extra four minutes of basketball on Friday night and Gene Johnson made sure there was not going to be any further action when he drilled a 28-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the St. Maria Gaels a 50-49 victory over a stunned William Penn Charter (Pa.) in the opening round of the Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament.

"I said before the game I was going to do something special," smiled Johnson as he cleared the mob of enthusiasts on the floor. "It's the first time I've hit a shot like this to win a game."

Johnson's theatrics put the Gaels in the championship game tonight at 7:45 against Bishop Ireton (Va.), the 1986 MAIT champ, which posted a 63-41 victor over John Carroll (Md.) in the opener.

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The Gaels, down by seven points at the outset of the fourth period when Leland O'Connor hit a 3-pointer, never quit but found themselves 1.2 seconds away from defeat after R. J. Lyons scored on a putback to give the Quakers a 49-47 lead.

Goretti called a quick time out to set up a play, which didn't go according to script and the Gaels won't mind.

Trying to draw a charge off a screen, Kevin Brashears delivered a pass from the baseline into the hands of Johnson, who caught, turned and shot in the blink of an eye, setting off a wild celebration.

It was a good person throwing the pass as Brashears, a catcher on the baseball team, has a rifle arm.

"I actually thought like I was throwing to second base," said Brashears.

"The first screen didn't work and I got to a spot, turned and saw the ball, coming and let if go .. no dribble .. not time," said Johnson, who ended with a team-high 15 points and a yeomans-like 16 rebounds on the board.

Johnson actually had a chance in regulation to win the game for the Gaels when his 3-pointer from the sideline about 21 feet out bounced high off the front of the rim and nearly came back through.

"We were lucky to win," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson.

The Gaels had 24 turnovers of which the Quakers spent time usually converting, but Goretti also offset their miscues with an advantage at the free throw stripe, hitting 18 of 26 compared to 5 of 7 for Penn Charter.

"When you have the errors we had, you get lucky," said Robertson. "Penn is a very nice perimeter team, but our kids played hard defense and never gave up.

"The win helps morale, especially starting the year," he said. "When there is time on the clock, you can never be out of a game like this."

Goretti had only brief leads at five different points of the game and never more than three, 47-44, in the overtime period after a key bucket by Logan Bolinger and a Johnson free throw.

Chambers added 11 points and Brashears came in with 10 points and seven rebounds. Sam Zeglinski, Penn Charter's senior point guard headed to the University of Virginia, led the Quakers with 17 points, but was 7 of 19 shooting.

In the opener, a much-taller Bishop Ireton controlled John Carroll from the outset of the contest.

Freshman Javorn Farrell led Bishop Ireton with 15 points, Tucker Lucas had 14, Michael Williams (6-foot-11 junior) had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Shane Walker (6-11 junior) had 12 points. Craig Ryan had 13 points for John Carroll.

Penn Charter and John Carroll meet in the consolation game at 6 p.m.

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