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Russ nets 32 to lift Saints

January 31, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

SAINT JAMES -- Mike Russ, the Tri-State area's leading scorer, collected 32 points Wednesday night to spark Saint James to a 77-69 win over Clear Spring in boys basketball action.

Russ scored 18 of his points in the first half as the Saints (11-7) took a 34-27 halftime lead, then traded baskets with the visitors in the final 16 minutes.

"I'm extremely happy with the effort, bouncing back from a heartbreaker to Sidwell Friends (a 70-63 loss on Tuesday)," Saint James coach Mike Brooks said. "We showed a lot of composure and character out there against a quality opponent."

With Russ supplying 11 points in the first quarter, the Saints rushed to a 23-15 lead and the Blazers (9-7) never tracked them down. Russ also grabbed 10 rebounds.

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"He's a complete player and a team player, he works hard and wants to win," Brooks said of Russ. "When he's not scoring, he is contributing in different ways."

While Russ showed the way for the Saints in the first half, Ben Farquhar took center stage in the second half.

He scored 17 of his 19 points after intermission and also added five assists in a strong overall performance.

Clear Spring coach Mark Shives said Farquhar -- who hit four 3-pointers in the second half -- and teammate Jordan Barr made the difference in the game.

"You expect Russ to get his points, but Farquhar hit some clutch baskets and Barr had a huge game," Shives said.

Barr added eight points, while Spencer Draper (10 points) was the third Saint James player to hit double figures. He also added five rebounds and nine assists.

While Saint James posted a win coming off a loss, the Clear Spring story was the complete opposite.

After defeating Smithsburg on Tuesday, the Blazers came out flat on Wednesday evening and fell to the Saints for the second time this season.

"We weren't ready to play," Shives said. "We hit something like 18 percent of our shots in the first half and were 2-for-11 from the foul line. You can't beat anyone playing that kind of basketball. We made poor decisions most of the game. We were tentative, sluggish."

Shives said the Blazers finally started to play decent basketball in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.

"We made a few runs there in the second half, but either Russ would score or Farquhar would nail a 3-pointer ... we just couldn't get back in the game. We sure need to play better Friday (against South Hagerstown)."

Keith Gilchrist, who had 22 points against Smithsburg on Tuesday, scored 30 against Saint James.

"He's improving with each game, but he's still learning," Shives said. "He did spark us offensively, but we need more production from the rest of the team."

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