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The 25th MAIT twists off Friday at Goretti

'Cokey's Court' to be unveiled

'Cokey's Court' to be unveiled

November 29, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

The 25th Mid-Atlantic Invitation Tournament will have an added twist this weekend at St. Maria Goretti's Gael Center.

At 6 p.m. Friday, a special dedication ceremony will take place when the school unveils its new basketball floor, named in honor of Goretti boys basketball coach Cokey Robertson, who's entering his 34th season.

"Cokey's Court" will be formally sworn in as part of the Goretti basketball lore, and then two games will take place when Mount Carmel tangles with Bullis School, followed by the host Gaels going against Bishop Guilfoyle (Pa.).

The losing teams return Saturday for the consolation game at 5:15 p.m., and the winning teams will vie for the MAIT trophy, but not until the additional twist takes place.

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Following the consolation game, Chambersburg and St. John's Catholic Prep will lift the lid on their campaigns in a nonconference endeavor.

All four MAIT teams have headlining stars.

Six-foot-3 senior Kevin Breslin leads Goretti as the Gaels try to rebound from last year's 12-20 record. Breslin led the team in scoring with a 14.6 average last season.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed on some better shooting this year," said Robertson. "We want to see a little more aggressiveness and we'll press defensively."

The Gaels won't hide from using a four-guard offense with Breslin and 6-1 senior Mitch Belella returning with the most experience. John Duhring, Goretti's 6-5 swingman, can go inside or out, and he'll be supported by 6-4 Stephon Berry.

"I'm giving (Breslin) free reins. I've not told him not to shoot," said Robertson. "I just want him to take good shots. When he's got the consistent stroke, he can do so many different things. We've got some overall size and depth, but my main concern is we're not that quick and tough physically."

Goretti may well mirror Bishop Guilfoyle in size and experience.

The Marauders are coming off a 23-5 record and a PIAA District 6 championship last season, but interim coach Dave Benton isn't overly optimistic right now.

"We had a successful football season in the playoffs before losing, so we're about two weeks behind right now," said Benton, who was Guilfoyle's coach from 1986-2000 with over 200 wins and five district titles. He is back on a one-year interim basis while the school searches for a permanent replacement.

Guifoyle's key returnees are 6-1 senior guard Matt Barroner and 5-10 junior guard Chris Brown. Luke McConnell, a 5-10 senior guard, saw limited varsity action last year. The lone big man for Guilfoyle is 6-5 swingman Logan McDannell.

The game between Mount Carmel and Bullis School should be a dandy with each school returning plenty of experience.

"We're a senior-loaded team with seven guys back," said Mount Carmel coach Tom Rose, in his sixth year and coming off a 19-13 record. "We've got some mid-Division I and II players and they're all capable of 15-plus points."

Leading the way is 5-10 senior guard Troy Franklin, who has signed with Towson University. He averaged 12 points last year. Senior guard Dwayne Wheeler, a 6-1 guard, has been courted by Shepherd University and Rose will also count heavily on 6-3 guard-forward Rummel King and 6-8 senior center Marcanthony Franks.

"Our goal is to establish the defensive end, and then we'll look to spread the ball out and use our speed and quickness," said Rose.

Bullis School will open the year with six players who had significant playing time last season, when the Bulldogs posted a 16-10 record.

"We started the season real good but we kind of limped home in the end," said coach Bruce Kelley, no stranger to this region, having been a head coach at St. John's at Prospect Hall in Frederick (now Catholic Prep).

Kelley's main guard tandem is 5-9 senior Eric Bernstein and 5-10 senior Brett Stein, both beginning their third year of varsity basketball. Stein's participation at 100 percent may be questionable with a tender ankle.

The Bulldogs return 6-5 forward Mike Petkovich, who averaged 14 points last season and has signed with Lafayette. Elijah Gore averaged nine points and Kelley calls the 6-1 senior a "slashing wingman."

"If we have all the guards healthy we'll extend the basketball, but it depends on our health," said Kelley. "But we'll try to win any way we can."

Even in Saturday's middle game, fans can take a look at two of the top players in the Tri-State area as Chambersburg features 6-6 senior Armond Perez and 6-5 senior DeVonte Merritt.

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