With Brown fouled out, Saints clip MRA

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 27, 2003

CLINTON &045; Forgive the Trinity Episcopal Saints if they looked a little dumbfounded with four minutes left to play.

For the first time all year &045; in the quarterfinals of MPSA Overall, mind you &045; top ball handler and starting point guard Chase Brown fouled out.

Up against the Class AAA state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy, you’d expect there was a slight amount of anxiety that set in among the four remaining starters. But the Saints regrouped, shuffled their duties and pulled a 72-59 stunner over the Patriots to advance to the semifinals Friday.

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The Saints will face Hillcrest Christian, a 73-69 winner over Brookhaven in triple overtime.

&uot;I was scared,&uot; said guard Gregory Ketchings, who took over the main ball handling duties following Brown’s exit. &uot;I was pretty scared. But I knew we could do it. He’s our biggest player, and he’s normally pretty smart about that. It was all right. I knew if I could handle their pressure for four minutes we’d be all right.&uot;

Not only did the Saints overcome Brown’s departure, it put the finishing touches on a game where they played solid defensively and controlled the boards on both ends to knock off the top team in Class AAA. The win also avenged an earlier loss to the Patriots last month.

&uot;We’re very fortunate to beat a team like that,&uot; Trinity head coach David King said. &uot;I’m certainly not worthy of beating him, but my team was. Defensively, it was one of our best outings I’ve seen. It’s easier for us to get up for them or JA or Jackson Prep than it is for them, and we use that to our advantage.

&uot;When you’re a (Class) single-A club up here, you’ve got to play our butt off up and down the court. I don’t recall one single situation where I was disappointed up or down the court.&uot;

You can’t really fault Brown for getting in foul trouble with the Saints’ depth compared to MRA’s depth. And with the emphasis the Saints put on defending MRA’s guards, the chances of Brown &045; or any other guard for that matter &045; was highly probable.

Fortunately it came after a bucket from Mike Lickliter went in at the 4:32 mark for a 57-43 lead, and Brown was called for his fifth at the 4:00 mark to put Will Dottley to the line in the bonus.

&uot;I was scared,&uot; said Lickliter, who finished with 24 points and eight rebounds. &uot;When Chase went out with the fouls, it was kind of iffy. We didn’t have Chase to pass it to to handle their pressure.&uot;

And the Patriots brought the pressure. The Saints got it down the floor and got Ryan Rachal on the line, and he nailed two for a 59-43 lead. But the Patriots got a 3-pointer from Will Dottley and a steal on the in-bounds play to keep things rolling &045; only to have it die when they were called for three seconds in the lane.

Dottley then canned a bucket before Phillip Harrison buried a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 59-51.

But that was it &045; the Saints had better success moving it down the floor, got baskets from Lickliter and Marcus Archer &045; Brown’s replacement on the floor &045; to start a 12-0 run to put the game away.

&uot;The success of our team depends on our guard play,&uot; MRA head coach Richard Duease said. &uot;We didn’t control their guards. Brown controlled us. When we rotated like we had to rotate, it creates easy shots. When we’re taking contested shots and they’re taking open shots, it makes for a long night.&uot;

The Saints kept the man-to-man pressure in the halfcourt against MRA’s guards, and the Patriots put in only one 3-pointer in the first three quarters. The Patriots had trouble offensively in the third quarter as the Saints turned a six-point halftime lead to a 14-point lead with less than a minute in the third thanks to a 14-6 run.

Lickliter and the Saints finished with 32 rebounds to MRA’s 21, and Lickliter and Dudley Guice Jr. combined for 21 boards.

Guice also had 24 points.

&uot;I thought Mike and Dudley were just awesome on the boards,&uot; King said. &uot;I think that was big &045; limiting their second shots. Mike has been on a tear on the boards the last four or five games.&uot;