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Gaels break tie, Titans' hearts

December 15, 2005|by CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

The scenario seemed all too familiar for St. Maria Goretti boys basketball coach Cokey Robertson.

His club's double-digit, fourth-quarter lead had evaporated into a 42-42 tie and the Gaels hadn't scored in more than four minutes.

Kevin Brashears ended the drought, however, converting a driving layup with 62 seconds left and the Goretti defense held Wednesday for a 44-42 win over Tuscarora.

"We dodged a bullet," said Robertson. "We tried to give the thing away. We've given away two like that this year and we're lucky we didn't do it tonight. We let them back in the game with our missed free throws and our turnovers."

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Goretti (3-4) committed 12 second-half turnovers to just three for the Titans (1-1) and Goretti missed three free throws in the final 30 seconds. Also, the Gaels attempted just 12 shots in the final 16 minutes, compared to 25 for Tuscarora, many coming off offensive rebounds.

Perhaps not surprising, since the Gaels played without starting center and leading scorer Gene Johnson, who is out for an undetermined amount of time due to illness.

Still, the Titans were unable to hit the critical shot down the stretch. Chris Castro missed and eight-footer with six seconds left, and Mitchell Weedon's layup hit off the iron four seconds later.

"We did a good job battling back in the second half, but we dug ourselves a hole in the first 16 minutes," said Tuscarora coach Dan Wagner. "We didn't come out to play, and I knew Goretti would. They're well-coached and they controlled the tempo of the game."

The Gaels used their perimeter game to establish a 13-9 advantage after the first eight minutes, sparked by Brashears with seven points, and pulled away to a 29-16 lead at the half.

But Tuscarora picked up the defensive intensity in the third quarter and closed the gap to 33-29. Brashears and Logan Bolinger, however, combined for five points in the final 30 seconds for a nine-point margin entering the final period.

Nine points from Hamilton Woodfolk, including a pair of 3s, propelled the Titans' 13-4 run to tie the game at 42-42.

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