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St. James runs off with Lions Classic championship

November 21, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

It is in the nature of the St. James boys basketball team to play an up-tempo, fast-paced game.

When Broadfording Christian turned the Lion Classic championship into a track meet Tuesday night, the Saints were in their element.

Mike Russ scored a career-high 33 points, Spencer Draper had 23 and T.K. Washington scored 11 with nine rebounds as the Saints topped the Lions 80-58 for the tournament title.

"We wanted to come out strong this season, and to win this thing was one of our goals," Draper said. "We definitely try to run the floor. We don't necessarily look for ball turnovers, but we like to go after passing-lane turnovers - even though we got some ball turnovers tonight."

Of Draper's eight steals, he turned five into easy baskets in transition. He also dished out eight assists, leaving the Lions wondering just what he would do with the ball.

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"His basketball IQ is phenomenal," Saints coach Mike Brooks said of Draper. "The scary part is he's just getting to know the game."

Perhaps even scarier is that Draper has a running mate as versatile as Russ. The Saints' junior guard penetrated the lane and showcased his jump shot with eight baskets and 20 points in the first half. He finished 13-for-19 from the field and hit 6 of 8 foul shots.

"I'm probably better taking it inside," said Russ, who topped his previous high of 32 points and earned tournament MVP honors. "I can use both hands and be more unpredictable."

That impulsive aggression caused Lions threat Armando Miller to pick up three first-half fouls to land on the bench for the last four minutes of the first half. Miller, who led Broadfording with 26 points in the opening round Monday night, scored just four in the title game.

"We tend to focus on us and not the other team, so getting (Miller) into foul trouble was not the main goal," Brooks said. "But it's hard for anyone trying to cover Mike Russ to not get drawn in."

Broadfording (1-1) quickly found another option in Devan Gourdine, who hit six 3s and finished with a team-high 22 points. Gourdine led a sizzling Lions shooting attack that hit its first six shots to take an early 12-6 lead. But that touch soon evaporated as they hit 16 of their last 42.

St. James (2-0) took its first lead at 19-17 when Draper hit a floater in the lane. A 9-0 run to start the second quarter provided cushion, and a 9-0 spurt early in the third quarter took the lead to 16 points. The Lions never brought the deficit back to single digits.

ยท Prior to the girls championship game, St. Maria coach Todd Rideout said, "We'll take what we can get."

On a bad shooting night for both teams, it was more about what the Gaels took as they outrebounded Broadfording 36-24 and pulled away late to post a 40-26 win in the championship game.

Tournament MVP Sarah Spierenburg had 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Erica DiMercurio added 12 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Carissa Grove chipped in with eight points and eight boards.

"Nobody was hitting any shots, so (rebounds) turned out to be big," Rideout said. "That also made foul shooting a key."

The Gaels (2-0) hit 9 of 10 from the charity stripe in the first half - during which the teams combined for just seven field goals - as they took a 17-8 lead. Foul shots and rebounding proved to be a stopgap for the Goretti offense, which beat a full-court press and hit seven of its last 10 shots to end the game.

For the game, Goretti hit 15 of 47 shots from the field, compared to 8 of 34 for the Lions.

"We definitely have to work on being patient," Rideout said. "If we get some more movement, we should get some more easy shots like we got at the end of the game."

Katie Connally led Broadfording with 14 points, while Taylor Capshaw added seven to go with 13 rebounds.

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