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Cokey-less MAIT is still the real thing

November 26, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

The 26th edition of the Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament will have a new and strange twist on Friday night at the Gael Center.

When St. Maria Goretti takes the floor to face St. Paul's (Md.) in the second game, it will mark the first time that Cokey Robertson won't be a part of the November tradition following his retirement last season.

It will mark the MAIT debut for new Gaels head coach Chad Brashears, who might well be the first to have played and coached in the tournament.

In the 6:30 p.m. opener, St. John's Catholic Prep will tip off against Archbishop Carroll (D.C.), followed by the Goretti-St. Paul's matchup. The tournament concludes Saturday with the consolation game at 6:30 p.m., followed by the championship game.

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"As a player you felt the excitement with the crowd to participate," said Brashears, who played for Goretti from 1997-99. "As a player I was a point guard, so you had to concentrate on running the show. As a coach, I'll still feel the excitement, but it will be more from the mental 'we do as a team' aspect."

Goretti and St. Paul's have each posted early-season wins.

The Gaels beat Faith Christian 73-29 on Tuesday in the Broadfording Lions Classic consolation game after losing to St. James 65-64 in their opener. St. Paul's opened with a 60-50 win over Kings Christian last week.

"We've got much work to do ahead, but I'm pleased where we are at right now," said Brashears. "We shot well the second night and I was happy that we showed character coming back in the first game."

The Gaels were down 21-6 to St. James early before rallying, then made 13 of 22 3-pointers against Faith -Brashears said the number of 3s made and attempted are probably single-game school records.

Nic Martin scored 25 points in the opener and Tyler Sterling canned seven 3s against Faith to lead the Gaels with 23 points.

With a wealth of experience returning to its lineup, St. Paul's will provide a stern test for Goretti.

"We return nine of the 12 players we had from last year and our first game was a step in the right direction," said St. Paul's coach Seth Goldberg. "We've got a lot of players back so we're going to be playing as an unselfish team."

St. John's Catholic Prep opened its season on Monday with a convincing 73-32 win over The Heights School. The Vikings were led by 5-foot-10 junior guard Cedrick Johnson's 15 points. Troy King, a 6-7 senior forward who will play for The Naval Academy, had 10 points but is coming off a football injury.

"King had a slight MCL injury the last week of the football season, so were taking it easy with him right now," said St. John's coach Silas Cheung. "Overall, we're young young but have great kids and some good talent."

The Vikings have three sophomores in their starting lineup - 6-8 Kevin Thomas, 6-6 Grandy Glaze and 6-3 Matej Delinac.

Archbishop Carroll, the 2006 MAIT champion, will be opening its campaign, coming off a 16-11 season and playing in the rugged Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, which includes powers such as DeMatha and Gonzaga.

While the gold "Cokey's Crazies" T-shirts were the dominating choice of attire in recent years, Brashears is hoping to white-out the Gael Center this year.

"It's the white-out of '08," he said. "We want everyone to show up in white."

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