2007-08 CRC Tournament >> Results Press Coverage

St. Joseph's Preparatory School def. Wheeling Central Catholic High School, 59-49

By Don Clegg
Cancer Research Classic

WHEELING, W.Va., Dec. 15, 2007 -- With more than 800 high school victories to his credit, Philadelphia coaching legend William "Speedy" Morris can be a hard man to please on and off the basketball court.  Morris was far from satisfied with his team's performance in the Hawks' 59-49 victory against Wheeling Central in the inaugural Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit University but said he was extremely impressed by the event itself.  The tournament was the brainchild of Dr. Gregory Merrick, executive director of the Urologic Research Institute and director of the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital, as a way to raise public awareness of men's health issues.

"Dr. Merrick is a friend of mine from back in Philadelphia," said Morris. "He told me this summer that he was going to put this tournament together but I never envisioned anything like this in the very first year.

"We have been to a number of tournaments in a lot of nice cities over the years but we have never been treated any better than we have here. It has been a great experience for our kids."

"I think Dr. Merrick has shown great vision in bringing these teams to Wheeling. He's doing it for a great cause and he's doing it the right way. I wish him a lot of success in the future."    

St. Joseph Prep led throughout the second half en route to its double-digit victory against the perennial West Virginia small-school power Wheeling Central but Morris said his veteran team remains a work in progress.

"We need to make better decisions with the basketball," said Morris. "We had 16 turnovers today and we came into the game averaging under 11."

"We don't have a lot of our offensive stuff in yet but I was hoping we'd be better defensively. We let them get to the basket too many times."

While the Hawks seemed in control after halftime, they didn't really take command until the fourth quarter. Morris said Central's intensity had something to do with that.

"Give them credit. They play really hard," he said. "They beat us up a little bit."

Wheeling Central closed to 44-39 with a pair of D'onte Long free throws at 6:27 of the fourth quarter but Dan Fitzpatrick answered with a 3-point bomb. After Joe Meehan added a 15-foot jumper and a pair of free throws to make it 51-39 with 4:52 remaining, the Knights never threatened again.   With 6-3 senior lead guard Jim Mower, a Lafayette recruit, unavailable due to injury, Meehan -- a 6-2 senior guard -- took up the scoring slack by knocking down 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half.  Mike Bradley, a 6-5 senior post, backed Meehan with 14 points while providing a rugged presence in the paint. Senior guards Phil Giordano and Sean Dooley added 12 and 10 points, respectively, in a balanced attack.  Central, which missed 7 straight free throws during one stretch of the fourth quarter, got 12 points from 6-3 senior forward Alex Peluchette while 6-4 senior post Cory McKitrick and 5-8 senior point guard Shane Phillips added 10 each.

"We really hurt ourselves with those missed free throws," said Central head coach Mel Stephens. "You're not going to shoot 100 percent but we were 16-of-29 and lost by 10."

"I'm not saying we win the game if we make what we should make from the line but we certainly made things tough on ourselves."