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MAIT tradition is Gaels' white cloud

November 30, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

The customary hurling of toilet paper onto the floor at the Gael Center is just around the corner.

The 23rd Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament, hosted by St. Maria Goretti, is this weekend.

The annual deluge from the Goretti student section is just a game and one Gaels' basket away. The launching will come on Friday with Goretti's first hoop against Archbishop Carroll in the nightcap of the first round. Bishop Loughlin, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Penn Charter (Pa.) kick off the tournament at 6:30 p.m.

Goretti has won the last two MAITs, including a 57-49 win over Bishop Ireton last season. Overall, Goretti has won six MAIT titles. Archbishop Carroll was the runner-up in 2001.

The Gaels, who finished 12-22 last year, could have a tough time in trying to make it three in a row. Goretti has lost plenty of talent via graduation and the rest of the field has some tall timbers and ability.

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Goretti coach Cokey Robertson opens his 33rd season with little experience in the paint for the first time in many years.

"I'm really concerned with the inside and our rebounding," said Robertson. "We are going to have to shoot the ball well and take care of it. Right now, we're just trying to mix new kids in. We've got a lot of 'ifs.'"

Junior guard Kevin Breslin returns after becoming the Gaels' leading scorer in the latter half of last season. The 6-foot-3 Breslin is saddled with an ankle injury, which could hamper a quick start.

Guards Ben Alencherry and Logan Bollinger, both 6-1 seniors, and David Plank, a 6-1 senior forward, all also return for Goretti. Robertson is giving 6-5 junior John Duhring the chance to provide some inside presence.

The Gaels will face an Archbishop Carroll team which has a new coach and two players added by transfers.

Clinton Perrow takes over as boys coach, moving over from the girls program.

"We have an interesting bunch," said Perrow.

Carroll's two imports are 6-8 junior Christopher Joseph, from Canada, and 6-10 Roman Pakieser, from Poland.

"We'll play (Joseph) anywhere," said Perrow. "Anywhere he plays, he can do anything."

Two other Carroll players to watch are 6-4 senior guard Danny Branch - considered "our most athletic kid" by Perrow - and 5-7 point guard Travis King. Both averaged in double digits for last year's 15-12 team.

Penn Charter coach Jim Phillips has three returnees to bolster a 16-player roster.

Penn Charter features 6-1 senior guard Sam Zeglinski, who has signed to play at University of Virginia; Bryan Teuber, a 6-3 wingman who will move on to Drexel on a lacrosse scholarship; and 6-8 junior Chris Kurz, all three are back from last year's 18-10 team.

"We've got a lot of depth and that can be a good problem and a bad problem," said Phillips. "We think we've got 13 kids, though, that are in the mix. We just have to figure out who they are. The problem is getting them playing time."

Zeglinski scored 17 points in Penn Charter's 50-49 overtime loss to Goretti in last year's MAIT semifinals.

Bishop Loughlin opened with a 25-point win last Saturday. Coach Kahlid Green says his team, which finished 15-14 last season, is going to be an "up-and-down the floor offense with plenty of pressure on defense."

Loughlin's prime players are 6-7 junior Kevin Phillips, who averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds last year, and 5-10 junior guard James Johnson, who scored 19 points in the season opener. Green is also counting on 6-2 swingman Doron Lamb.

The consolation final will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. followed by the championship game.

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