3 vying for Catholic tournament championship|[12/1/2005]

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 2, 2005

A trimmed down Catholic Schools Tournament tips off tonight at St. Aloysius.

The annual tournament generally pits between four to five Catholic schools from Mississippi on a rotating site. This year, the tournament comes to Vicksburg but will feature just three teams as Mercy Cross of Biloxi and Natchez Cathedral pulled out.

The tournament also was supposed to be over three days, beginning Thursday, but was changed when St. John defeated Puckett 37-31 last week in the Class 1A football quarterfinals. The Eagles are hosting Mount Olive tonight in Long Beach for the South State 1A final.

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&#8220Originally, we weren’t playing on Friday but with St. John advancing in the football playoffs, we’ll play St. Joe of Greenville on Friday and St. John will then come up Saturday and play two games each,” St. Aloysius coach McBrayer said.

The revised tournament schedule has the unbeaten St. Al Lady Flashes (6-0) taking on Greenville St. Joe tonight at 6 p.m. The 4-2 St. Al boys will follow against St. Joe’s boys, a team that advanced to the State 1A Boys Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson last season.

&#8220St. Joe’s boys have a lot back off that team so it’ll be a good test for our boys,” McBrayer said. &#8220And the St. John girls were a preseason top five team in 1A.”

The St. Al girls and St. John meet at 4:30 Saturday afternoon. The boys contest wraps up the day at 6. The two contests will be preceded by St. John and St. Joe’s two games, beginning at 1 and 2:30 p.m.

The St. John girls were built into a top-flight program on the Gulf Coast by now current Ole Miss assistant coach Renee Ladner. They won the 2A state title in 2000 under Ladner.

&#8220We’ve heard that St. John is pretty good,” said St. Al senior guard Amy Beaugh, who directs a vastly improved Lady Flashes team.

Sarah Kerut, the team’s second leading scorer at 14 points per game for St. Al, remembers the two losses the Lady Eagles handed the Lady Flashes last year.

&#8220I remember the game down there last year. They are one of the top teams on the Coast and they play a lot of the bigger schools,” Kerut said.

St. John is 3-3 this season with losses to St. Martin and Long Beach, both ranked in the Sun Herald’s South Mississippi top five. St. John is led by their returning leading scorer in guard Jill Beattie.

St. Al has some firepower too, with Kerut and the two Beaugh sisters in Amy and Annie. Annie, a senior, leads the Lady Flashes at 26 points per game.

The St. Al boys are led by Chase Smith‘s 20 points per game, along with Marsh Willis and Chris Baer. St. Joe is led by a solid tandem of Walter Howard and Travis Johnson, who combined for 44 points in a Tuesday night win over Riverside.