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Storm continues reign over Gaels in overtime win

January 18, 2007|by TIM KOELBLE

The Mercersburg Academy basketball team continues to hold a noose around St. Maria Goretti's neck.

For the second straight season, the Blue Storm pulled off a hat trick in victories, going an extra period on Wednesday night to record a 45-44 win over the snake-bitten Gaels.

Senior forward Neil Gordon swished an 8-foot baseline jumper with 18 seconds remaining in overtime that stood up for the Mercersburg victory.

Blue Storm coach Mark Cubit was n't worried about Gordon - who had scored two points - taking the decisive shot that came on a feed from David Theis that beat a double-team in the paint.

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"(Neil) actually has a pretty good jump shot but he's struggled since coming off of the football season," said Cubit. "It looked like a good shot to me when it left his hands."

The 6-foot-6 New Mexico native had a feeling.

"The shot felt pretty good and I thought it had a good chance of going in," said Gordon. "David was doubled and was able to see me and get the ball to me."

Goretti (8-11) had one last opportunity but turned the basketball over with 1.5 seconds remaining, repeating the events of the final 1:36 of regulation when the Gaels turned over two opportunities while trying to break a 40-40 tie.

Compounding those troubles, Kevin Breslin missed a pair of foul shots with 3.4 seconds left in regulation from a call Cubit vehemently argued wasn't a shooting foul.

"You gotta believe (Breslin) is going to make at least one of those shots," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson.

Goretti, hitting 9 of 16 shots in the first half, jumped out to a 23-14 lead in the second period before Theis scored four points to cut the Blue Storm deficit to 23-18.

The Gaels also led by five with less than a minute remainng in the third period, but Kyle Roy hit a goal with 1.5 seconds left to make it 34-31.

"I'm not going to commit suicide just yet," said Robertson. "I thought we had the game won twice, but we didn't play with savvy. That shot at the end of the third, I thought, hurt us. Our game instincts have to get better."

The 6-6 Theis asserted himself in the final period with seven points, including two free throws to give the Blue Storm a 35-34 lead. He later added a goal to knot the score 40-40 at the 2:10 mark.

Theis ended with 23 points, 17 coming in the second half after a halftime conversation. He was 8 of 12 from the floor and showed versatility by knocking down a 3-pointer.

"I had a talk with our guards at the half," said Cubit. "We weren't getting the ball to David down low."

Goretti, which lost its second straight one-point game, might not have been in the game had it not been for a superb effort by Evan Henderson off the bench. Henderson led the Gaels with nine points, all coming in the second half, including two 3-pointers.

"(Evan) has some confidence in his shots and he was a spark off the bench for us," said Robertson. "Without him we wouldn't have been in a position to win."

Breslin, who averages 14.5 points per game, was held to eight points and Mercersburg held John Duhring scorless in the second half after seven first-half points.

"It's not hard to beat a bad team, but it sure is hard to beat a good team," said Cubit, of the three wins over Goretti and 60 percent of the Blue Storm's win total this year (5-7).

Both teams shot 50 percent or better, Goretti hitting 17 of 33 shots, while Mercersburg was 17 of 34.

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