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Gaels rally to defeat Devils by 1

December 21, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Apparently the St. Maria Goretti boys basketball team doesn't reach its full potential until it faces a late deficit with a key player out of the game.

For the second straight night, Goretti had a starter foul out of the game as it attempted a late surge, but once again got a lift from Logan Bolinger and Ben Alencherry, as well as reserve Evan Henderson, and the Gaels came from behind to stun Greencastle-Antrim 55-54 for their second win in as many days.

"We've got to get someone to foul out of the game before we start playing," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson. "The nice part of it is we play nine guys and they have to be ready when it's their turn."

Leading scorer Kevin Breslin fouled out with 3:34 remaining and Greencastle followed his exit by hitting 3 of 4 free throws to up its lead to 52-45.

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That's when Bolinger took control on both ends of the floor to pull Goretti back into the game. The 6-foot-1 senior started the surge by taking a pass from Mitch Bellella on the right wing and hitting the Gaels' first and only 3-pointer of the game.

On the next play, Bolinger made a steal at midcourt, maintained his dribble as he fell to the ground and got inside the lane for a 13-foot jumper to trim the deficit to 52-50.

Bolinger assisted the game-tying bucket after he came up with another loose ball, passing underneath to Henderson, who double-pumped before banking in the layup, evening the score at 52.

"I guess we have to have our backs against the wall," said Bolinger, who finished with 12 points. "(Breslin) is probably our best player and any time he goes out we know we have to make up for it. We just had to step up our defense to get back in the game."

The more-aggressive defense resulted in another foul and Levie Holman drained both of his free throws to give the Blue Devils a 54-52 advantage.

Greencastle (4-4) was perfect from the charity stripe through three quarters, but missed four in the final period - including two by Jaren Gembe with 24 seconds left, squandering an opportunity to make it a two-possession game.

That left the door open for Goretti.

Henderson hauled in a defensive rebound before being fouled and hit the front-end of a 1-and-1 to pull the Gaels (5-4) within a point. Henderson misfired on the second attempt, but Alencherry came up with a pair of offensive rebounds - he had five boards in the fourth quarter - and passed to Henderson, who was fouled again.

This time, Henderson hit both foul shots to give Goretti a 55-54 advantage with 11 seconds left.

Jaren Gembe took the ensuing inbounds pass and ran the floor looking for an opening. But the go-ahead shot was obstructed by Bolinger and rolled off the rim. Alencherry threw the loose rebound off a Greencastle player and out of bounds as time expired.

Jaren Gembe, who led the Blue Devils with 17 points, was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

"We wanted to try to make a play," said Greencastle coach Garon Gembe. "We wanted to get the ball in (Jaren's) hands to either make a play, or find the open guy so they could make the play."

Jaren Gembe and his brother, Jordan, played a big role in building the Greencastle lead in the second and third quarters. Jaren hit three 3s in the second quarter and the Blue Devils used a 10-0 spurt to take a 30-22 lead. Bolinger hit three free throws just before halftime to make it a five-point game.

Jordan Gembe had five points and three assists - two to reserve Ty Thrush - in the third quarter as the Blue Devils extended the lead to 43-35 heading into the final period.

The lead grew to 12 points as Holman opened the fourth quarter with the first four points. But Goretti inched back into the game as Breslin grabbed four of his nine rebounds and scored four of his team-high 13 points before fouling out.

"Right now, we're lacking a bit of confidence in closing out competitive games," Garon Gembe said. "We're lacking some success as a team and we're in a little bit of a flux. Luckily, it's only December."

Holman had 14 points and Jordan Gembe added nine for the Blue Devils, who have lost three straight games.

Alencherry finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Henderson added nine points - eight in the fourth quarter - for the Gaels.

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