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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2004

This time Libbey is minus a player

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The roles will be reversed tonight when two-time defending regular-season champion and top-seeded Libbey (14-5) takes on second-seeded, two-time defending playoff champion St. John s Jesuit (15-4) for the City League boys basketball championship at 7:30 at Savage Hall.

When the two teams matched up in league play on this same court back on Dec. 16, preseason CL-favorite St. John s was without two starters - 6-7 junior forward Zach Hillesland (torn meniscus) and 6-3 senior forward Duke Keller (ankle sprain).

Led by 5-8 senior guard Jerome Pierce (21 points) and 6-3 senior guard Ernie Reed (18), the Cowboys had four players score in double figures that night en route to an impressive 78-66 victory. With an inexperienced makeshift lineup, 29 points from 6-6 junior forward B.J. Raymond and 27 from 6-2 senior guard Brian Roberts were not enough fot the Titans.

Scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds in that game was third-year Cowboy starter David Osby, a 6-3 forward and team leader who subsequently sustained a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee during Libbey s 67-44 win over Scott at Savage Hall on Feb.6.

Libbey coach Leroy Bates will try to fill the void in the rematch against St. John s by committee - mainly with 6-5 freshman wing Nate Miles, who scored 16 points in December win over the Titans, and 5-8 senior guard Eugene Harris, who had 10 points in Libbey s 78-50 semifinal win over Whitmer Tuesday night.

“We hate to lose David because he s a great person as well as a quality basketball player,” Bates said following his team s win Tuesday. “But I was pleased with the effort of [6-3 starting senior forward] Marquel Jefferson inside, and Eugene Harris did an outstanding job applying the pressure. We have some guys that can fill in. It s just a matter of getting the cohesiveness going.”

Jefferson led Libbey with 24 points and added five rebounds in Tuesday s semifinal win.

Although Hillesland would miss 10 games, his Dec. 24 surgery to repair a minor meniscus tear was successful and he returned to action Jan. 23. St. John s is 9-0 in games with Hillesland, who last week verbally committed to accept a scholarship from Notre Dame.

The Titans beat Scott 68-59 in Tuesday s semifinals, despite the fact that Hillesland, whose playing time was limited to about six minutes because of foul trouble, contributed just two points and six rebounds. Keller stepped up with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

ALL-CITY LEAGUE GIRLS: At halftime of tonight s boys title game, the All-City girls team, as selected by league coaches, will be presented.

On the seven-member first team are Clay senior Kate Achter (25.1 points per game), Bowsher senior Jazlyn Davis (23.2), Start senior Vicki Brown (13.9), Central Catholic junior Jessica Minnfield (14.9), Scott senior Krystle Sudduth (17.8), Whitmer senior Sara Sheperd (15.9) and Notre Dame Academy senior Maureen Hunter (9.2).

Achter was voted player of the year after receiving that honor the prior two years in the Great Lakes League, and Central s Steve Pfahler, who guided the Irish to their eighth straight CL title, was voted coach of the year.



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