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Published: Saturday, 3/1/2003

St. John's survives scare

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Scott's Vershawn Chears tries to block a shot by St. John's Zach Hillesland in the sectional final last night at Libbey. Scott's Vershawn Chears tries to block a shot by St. John's Zach Hillesland in the sectional final last night at Libbey.
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

St. John's Jesuit got a scare from Scott last night in the second of two Division I boys basketball sectional finals at Libbey.

The Bulldogs used a barrage of 10 3-pointers but it was not enough as the Titans prevailed 62-56.

In the first game, Southview defeated Whitmer 68-58.

City League champion St. John's (17-4) had dominated Scott on Jan. 23, taking a 76-45 victory. Bolting to a 19-3 lead after one quarter last night, it looked to be more of the same.

But Scott (10-10) switched from man-to-man to a zone defense, got the Titans out of sync, and used a 19-7 second quarter to pull within 26-22 at halftime.

The Bulldog momentum elevated in the third quarter as five Scott 3-pointers, three from Vershawn Chears (12 points), keyed a 16-4 run. Scott took a 41-36 lead on Ramone McBrayer's trey with 3:04 left in the quarter.

“They went to zone and our shot selection in the second quarter was abominable,” Titan coach Ed Heintschel said. “Then, once they got the momentum going, they started to shoot well.

“You just ride it out and hope it doesn't continue, and you hope your guys hang in there. We did a decent job of that tonight.”

The Bulldog rally was muted late in the third quarter when Chears drew his fourth foul and point guard James Walker left the game after being elbowed in the face.

“We went to a zone and started hitting shots,” Scott coach Earl Morris said. “When we hit outside shots, we're hard to deal with because that takes the pressure off our inside people.

“Then when Walker got hurt, that was the ball game. When you lose your leading scorer [Chears] and your point guard, that's tough. We never recuperated from that.”

Scott's last lead was 48-46 with 6:46 left in the game on a trey from Kenneth Davis.

St. John's answered with treys from Thomas Carr and Brandon Barabino, then got a layup with 4:42 left from Zach Hillesland (18 points, 11 rebounds) for a 54-48 edge. Scott got no closer than four from there.

“I felt good before the game tonight,” Hillesland said. “I had a little extra bounce in my step and came out aggressive and wanted to attack the boards. We lost our focus for a while, but we kept our heads up and knew eventually they had to miss.”

The Titans were led in scoring by 6-5 sophomore B.J. Raymond's 21 points. Brian Roberts and Barabino added nine apiece.

“It was a matter of survival,” Raymond said. “They were coming hard at us, but we knew if we stayed together we would end up winning the game.”

Scott guard Romeo Alexander led all scorers with 23, and McBrayer added 11.

Whitmer trailed 29-21 at halftime and never led until a hot-shooting third quarter put the Panthers up 43-41 on Cory Burghardt's three-point play with 1:16 left in the period.

Jermaine Fletcher took to the inside to score eight of his 18 points in the third quarter and erase Southview's lead. But the Cougars responded to each Whitmer uprising.

Steve Kyser, who topped all scorers with 21 points, meshed two free throws 17 seconds later to tie the game, and teammate Eric Savory scored on a spin move with 36 seconds left in the quarter for a 45-43 advantage.

“We knew it would be a tough game,” Kyser said. “We just had to try and stop their penetration, and we just needed to be patient on offense. We took care of that.”

Whitmer pulled within a point on three occasions in the fourth quarter before falling back 60-57 on two Savory free throws with 1:16 left. Panther Todd Lindroth made a drive to the basket and appeared to get fouled, but no call was made, Southview rebounded, and then began salting things away.

Kyser's three-point play with 46.2 seconds left, and his two free throws with 32.5 to go, all but sealed Whitmer's fate.

“We're not as physically imposing as Southview,” Whitmer coach Bruce Smith said. “In the last three minutes we had to get a couple breaks go our way and we had to be a little lucky in order to overcome that, and we didn't get any breaks.”

Mike Norris scored 20 points for the Cougars, Ray Thomas had 13 and Savory added 10. Burghardt contributed 14 points for Whitmer and Lindroth added 12.



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