Gaels cut down Ireton to win MAIT

November 27, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

Cokey Robertson has been around long enough to know he only needs a few hours to construct a master plan to go against an opponent that far exceeds what his team doesn't have in height.

The veteran St. Maria Goretti coach crafted a plan in a workout Saturday morning as the Gaels prepared to face Bishop Ireton (Va.) in the finals of the Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament at the Gael Center that evening.

While Gene Johnson was the tallest Gael at 6-foot-7, Bishop Ireton brought in a pair of 6-11 starters and a 6-7 forward, with more height coming off the bench.


Tenacity on the part of the Gaels and a torrid third period helped Goretti capture its second straight MAIT crown, knocking down Bishop Ireton, 57-49.

"We thought we saw them slow dropping back on defense so we thought we could run a little with them," said Robertson.

The Gaels came out with a 2-1-2 zone defense in the first half, but switched to man in the second half after Ireton freshman Javorn Farrell's four 3-pointers led Bishop Ireton to a 25-19 halftime lead.

"We weren't aware of (Farrell) in the first half and coach talked about making the changes to man," said Andrew Chambers, who had 11 points and five rebounds. "We fronted 50 (6-11 Shane Walker) and stayed behind 30 (6-11 Michael Williams) but we had to find 10 (Farrell).

Not only did the Gaels do that, but they came out with an extra kick of energy to open the third period at both ends of the floor.

Johnson hit three buckets and a free throw in a 2 1/2-minute span and the Gaels found themselves with a 30-25 lead, enabling Robertson to make a move to the bench and get Johnson some rest.

He inserted 6-4 senior Danny Toft, a transfer from St. John's at Prospect Hall, and he responded with a quick baseline deuce at the 1:22 mark, only to follow it the next trip down the floor with a baseline 3-pointer.

"We still needed a spark off the bench to keep that lead," said Toft, "and I'm so glad to contribute. That 3 ... it was just instinct. I'm not usually gonna shoot that."

Bishop Ireton threatened by cutting the deficit to 39-33 early in the fourth period, but sophomore Kevin Breslin hit a 3-pointer to take away some of the momentum with 5:05 remaining.

Chambers hit a trey and the Gaels converted five free throws to extend the margin to 52-37 with less than a minute to play.

"We scored only two points in the third period by taking poorer shot selection," said Ireton coach Chuck Driesell. "Give Goretti credit, they executed their offense in the third quarter and they had the players make the plays."

The Gaels' plan of defending the inside towers worked as Williams converted only two free throws through three periods and Walker scored three before fouling out. Williams eventually scored 11 points in the final quarter.

Breslin, with his older brother Joey, an ex-Goretti star in attendance, led the Gaels with 13 points, while Johnson had 12 and Chambers 11. Kevin Brashears, who had seven of his nine points in the final period, had seven rebounds along with Johnson.

"To start off the season 2-0 against two teams like this ... you gotta be excited," said Robertson.

Johnson was named MVP of the MAIT and Breslin and Brashears were on the all-tournament team along with Farrell, Walker and Sam Zeglinski, who led Penn Charter (Pa.) with 16 points in the consolation game and a 68-29 win over John Carroll (Md.).

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