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Boys Basketball: Motivated Gaels pay back Saints

December 12, 2012|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com

ST. JAMES — Maybe some St. Maria Goretti players remembered all too well the loss they suffered to Saint James in the Independent-Parochial Schools League championship game last season in the Gael Center.

On Wednesday, the Gaels entered the Saints’ gym, dictated the flow of the game from the beginning and shook down Saint James for a measure of revenge with a 63-44 IPSL decision in front of a packed throng, including several interested college scouts.

“Every game is full of intensity, but tonight we really wanted to come out fast,” said senior guard Tyrus Fleetwood, who led the Gaels with 21 points. “We didn’t like losing to them at home last year.”

After 6-foot-9 junior Obi Enechionyia hit a 3-pointer to give Saint James (3-2, 2-2) a 3-2 lead, Goretti (7-4, 2-0) used a 7-0 run to take control. Martin Geben, himself 6-9, hit two free throws, Forest Buterbaugh hit a bucket in close and Fleetwood added a three-point play in transition.

It turned out to be game, set, match.

“They came out fired up and we did not match their intensity tonight,” Saint James coach Paul Easton said. “They threw the big punch right away.”

The Gaels held a 15-5 lead after the first quarter and 28-19 at the half, with Fleetwood scoring nine of his points in the second quarter — with three buckets coming on assists from point guard Ryan Grant, who finished with 10 dimes.

Saint James shot only 23 percent (7 of 30) in the first half. At the half, Obi Enechionyia had 11 of the Saints’ 19 points.

Jacob Thompson hit a 3-pointer to reduce the deficit to 28-22 to start the third quarter, giving the Saints a ray of hope.

But Geben and Buterbaugh, pounding away on the inside, had back-to-back buckets for a 32-22 lead and the Gaels were never seriously threatened after that.

Goretti built a 20-point lead at 55-35 with 3:43 remaining when Toby Christensen — who came off the bench and performed admirably with 12 points — hit a jumper from the baseline and Fleetwood made two free throws.

It was a physical contest, but players were able to play their game. At times, Fleetwood and 6-6 senior Nnamdi Enechionyia could be seen jawing with one another.

Fleetwood got plenty of help in the scorebook. Geben and Isaiah Harris-Winn each added 10 points for Goretti.

Despite playing their fourth game in six days, the Gaels did not appear out of gas.

“I thought our bench was a factor,” Goretti coach Amrit Rayfield said. “We’ve played well the last 10 days against good opposition like tonight and that helped get us ready. The kids brought the effort with them.”

It made no difference who pounded the backboards for Goretti, with Geben pulling down 12 rebounds, Buterbaugh 10 and Fleetwood nine.

Obi Enechionyia had 24 points, 22 of the Saints’ 35 total rebounds and eight blocked shots.

“(Goretti) made us play faster, rushing our shots,” Easton said. “They dictated. Obi played well.”

Goretti 63, Saint James 44
ST. MARIA GORETTI (7-4, 2-0)
Grant 0, Fleetwood 21, Geben 10, Harris-Winn 10, Buterbaugh 6, Christensen 12, Akaya 4. Totals 24 11-12 63.
SAINT JAMES (3-2, 2-2)
O. Enechionyia 24, N. Enechionyia 8, Slater 2, Thompson 5, Young-Burke 3, Harris 2. Totals 18 3-5 44.
Goretti    15    13    14    21    —    63
Saint James    5    14    9    16    —    44
3-point goals — Goretti 4 (Christensen 2, Fleetwood, Harris-Winn), Saint James 5 (Thompson, Young-Burke, O. Enechionyia 2, N. Enechionyia).

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