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St. Maria Goretti sends Rebels south

February 22, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER /Staff Correspondent

St. Maria Goretti sophomore Kevin Breslin scored 28 points against South Hagerstown on Tuesday night, but the points he will remember most are the ones that he helped Brian Cordova score.

Cordova took a pass from Breslin in transition and laid it in to cap Goretti's 85-46 win over the Rebels. It was the first - and likely last - basket of Cordova's career with the Gaels.

"That's what we were trying to do at the end. We were trying to get (Cordova) to score," Breslin said. "It felt awesome to get him his first career field goal."

Cordova was a staple in the Goretti program for four years, but this year he saw his first varsity action and there was no better way to end his final game at the Gael Center.

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"It's all about these guys," Cordova said, referring to his teammates, who huddled around him in celebration. "It feels good, but it's all my teammates."

Those teammates did plenty to try and get Cordova the personally historic basket in the closing minutes. From underclassmen Breslin and Benny Alencherry to seniors Kevin Brashears and Andrew Chambers, all the Gaels were dying to see Cordova score.

"It's the best feeling in the world to see your friend, who's worked hard for four years, get his first basket," Breslin said.

The basket turned out to be special for only one team because the other - South Hagerstown - was well out of contention. The Rebels (7-15) hung tough with Goretti (12-21) through the first quarter, tied 16-16, and were still within striking distance at halftime, down 39-28.

But a little more than a minute into the second half, Rebels coach Dennis Seman opted to pull his starters and let his reserves finish out the game.

"If we had cut the lead after halftime then I would have kept the starters in, but it was just an exercise in futility," Seman said. "I thought it was a perfect opportunity to give our subs more playing time and give them the experience of playing against a good basketball team."

Goretti scored 6 of 9 baskets directly off steals to open the second half and quickly turn the 11-point halftime lead into a 58-28 thumping. The Gaels forced 10 turnovers in the period.

"Our defense picked up in the second half," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson. "Our defense became our offense."

"We definitely turned up our defense, but it sure helped that they took out (Dominique) Byrd and (Muzammil) Bhutto," Breslin said.

By game's end, Goretti had won going away, but the Gaels had trouble shaking the Rebels early. Goretti took control in the second quarter, hitting 10 of 12 free throws, while South did not attempt a foul shot. The Gaels scored the final six points before halftime to take the first double-digit lead.

"In the first quarter we took too many jump shots," Breslin said. "Coach started to yell at us to go inside, so we went to the lane and that opened up shots on the outside."

Alencherry had 12 points, Chambers had 10 and Brashears added 10 for the Gaels.

Byrd led the Rebels with 12 and Bhutto had nine in just more than one half's work.

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