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Spotlight of MAIT off Gaels

November 25, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

The nightcap of tonight's opening round of the 27th Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament could be considered the late undercard of the heavyweight opener.

That game will feature highly touted Good Counsel (Md.) and Benedictine (Va.) at 6 p.m. at the Gael Center in the season debut for both teams. It will be followed by host St. Maria Goretti and John Carroll.

That puts Goretti coach Chad Brashears and John Carroll coach Tony Martin in basic agreement.

"Our goal is to get to the championship game on Saturday, but whomever we play will be so tough," said Brashears, in his second season at the Gaels' helm.

"That's something to look forward to," chuckled Martin, in his fifth season at John Carroll.

Benedictine, from the Richmond area, is led by standout Mike Gbinije, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, who is a target recruit for Division I schools. Benedictine also features five other players who are at least 6-3.

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Good Counsel had a roster influx with several transfers from Towson Catholic after that school closed last year. First-year coach Blair Mills will bring a deep, talented team to the Gael Center.

Neither Brashears nor Martin are looking past their matchup, however.

Goretti comes into the MAIT carrying a tournament title from this week's Lions Classic. Although the competiton level will increase dramatically, two wins is a positive for Goretti.

"I'm happy for 2-0 and excited," said Brashears. "We shot well in the first game and played some real good defense in the latter part of Tuesday's game. We showed some grit and character.

"But this is superior competition and far different and our goal is Saturday to be in the final," Brashears said.

Goretti is accustomed to playing Maryland and D.C.-area teams with its membership in the Baltimore Catholic League and other non-conference matchups.

"You want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year, but in this case you've got to play great basketball in November against these very good teams," Brashears said.

In Tuesday's 58-47 come-from-behind win over Broadfording, Nic Martin pumped in 24 points and Jay Donoghue emerged with 14 points to push the Gaels to victory. And in the opening 73-26 win over Faith Christian, Patrick Heizer came through with 14 points in his starting varsity debut.

John Carroll opened its season Monday with a 57-55 loss to Glenleg Country Day and played St. Paul's on Wednesday.

Martin said the Patriots will be missing some key components to an already young team.

"We've had some early-season injuries and had only two players back with experience," Martin said. "We're the youngest team in the MIAA."

There are only two seniors on the roster. Junior Jarred Jones, a 6-7 junior, is one of John Carroll's two returning players but is injured and will not play.

Juniors Malcom McMillan (6-0) and Ronald Scott (5-11) and sophomore Lionel Greene Jr. (6-2) will run Carroll's guard-oriented offense.

Carroll has what Martin calls "potential inside" in 6-8 freshman Mike Owona, who also has brother, Christian (6-6), in uniform.

"It's all about guard play for us," said Martin. "Move fast, uptempo and pull it back when needed. ... That's what we'll do."

Saturday's consolation game will tip at 6 p.m. with the championship game set for 8.

Goretti has won six MAIT crowns, the last in 2005 when it defeated Bishop Ireton (Va.), 57-49. Good Counsel won the 1998 MAIT, beating Goretti, 60-53.

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