Of all the possible words Brendan Stanton could have used to describe his feeling,

relief

came off as a curious choice.

Relief? New member Lansdale Catholic had just captured its first-ever Catholic League basketball victory yesterday, rolling past host Bishop McDevitt, 48-33, in a Blue Division contest.

Thrilled or elated might have worked. Even satisfied.

Instead, Stanton uttered the "R" word.

"When it was first decided that we were going to come into the Catholic League," he said, "people were saying there was no way we could compete. We were coming off two not-good seasons in the PAC-10 [Pioneer Athletic Conference], so how could we compete against the powerhouse teams in the Catholic League?

"It's nice to prove those people wrong . . . Well, it's still going to be a challenge. But it's nice to get that first one [after a defeat Wednesday night against Archbishop Wood]. We came in here seeing this as a winnable game."

Stanton, a 6-foot, 160-pound senior lefty, serves first-year coach Bernie Fitzgerald (former two-stints head man at La Salle) at wing guard.

His 12-point effort topped the Crusaders, who dedicated the win to Fitzgerald's goddaughter, Keri Fitzgerald, a 19-year-old college student who suffered serious injuries in a recent automobile accident, and he packed nine of those markers into a 22-6 second quarter. He sniped 3-for-4 therein, with one of his makes a threeball.

Stanton's play really excited LC's student fan. Yes, singular.

"I looked around. Except for our managers, [football player] Nick Manai was the only student here," Stanton said, laughing. "He did tell us he'd be coming to every game.

"We get pretty good support at our home games. Sunday afternoon on the road is rough. I'll tell the students, though. Gotta step it up a little."

Stanton lives in Harleysville and a brother, Colin, played 2 years ago for Souderton. Brendan had been a fan of CL basketball, however, and attended games as an eighth-grader while enrolled at Corpus Christi, a prime LC feeder.

"So many great guards to watch," he said. "I love being in the CL. It's going to better prepare us for ball beyond high school . . . I thought about going to La Salle High, but I wanted to go to a smaller school."

La Salle? Hmm. The Explorers had brothers named Stanton - Chris, Dennis and Mike. Dennis, for Ursinus, even became the Centennial Conference's all-time leading scorer. They hailed from North Wales.

"Distant cousins. Very distant," Brendan said. He added with a laugh, "We don't go to the same family parties."

Mike Barr (10) also scored in double figures for LC, while Liam Coyne (eight) and Alex Kirk (seven) came close. Stanton made three steals. Barr grabbed nine rebounds as Joe Patzuk and Kirk claimed six apiece.

For McDevitt, sophomore Reggie Charles mixed 19 points, six boards, two assists and six steals.

"In summer play," Stanton said, "I was our leading scorer. Teams are focusing a little on me, so I'm trying to create for others. As you can see, we're pretty undersized, so we all have to concentrate on boxing out and rebounding. From there we get it and go.

"We've had a nice environment around the team this season. Even the parents seem more interested."

Stanton hopes to become a teacher-coach.

"I usually work at LC's camps and I coach intramurals," he said. "I figured teaching would be pretty much the same thing." *