Don’t expect the Mount St. Joseph basketball team to sneak up on any opponents this season.
The Gaels are coming off a 33-6 season in which four of their six losses were by one point.
They won the Maryland Intersholastic Athletic Association A Conference regular-season title with a 15-1 record, but lost in the MIAA Tournament finals to St. Frances.
Mount St. Joe also won the Baltimore Catholic League regular-season title, but fell to John Carroll in the tournament championship game, 51-50.
Seniors Darryl Morsell (6 feet, 5 inches) and Nigel Jackson (6-5) returned for the Gaels. Both are committed to Division I colleges.
Morsell will play at the University of Maryland and Jackson is headed for Wagner University.
Morsell, an All-Metro selection last season, averaged 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last year.
Foul trouble limited him in the Gaels’ season-opening 75-42 win over Indian Creek on Nov. 22 and he was held scoreless in the first half before he finished with seven points in the second half.
“I don’t think he was ready to play,” Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. “He’s a very talented guy. He’s versatile. He’s athletic and he can do multiple things, but you have to do it on a consistent basis.”
Morsell bounced back and scored 21 points to lead the Gaels to a 72-63 win over B Conference foe Severn on Monday night.
Jackson scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half against Indian Creek and he hit a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Leading the way against Indian Creek was junior Jalen Smith (6-9) who had 19 points and nine rebounds.
Smith is being recruited by several Division I schools with the University of Maryland being the early favorite.
Clatchey really saw a jolt in Smith’s ability last year at the season-ending Alhambra Tournament.
“Jalen finished the season last year with three triple doubles at Alhambra against real good competition,” said Clatchey, noting he averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds as a 15-year-old sophomore. “I thought he had a good year and he is still learning the game. He’s 6-9, he’s got touch, he’s got timing and he can run.”
Smith took advantage of the smaller Indian Creek squad that plays in the MIAA B Conference.
Joining Smith, Morsell and Jackson in the starting lineup on opening night were junior point guard Tyree Myers (5-9) and sophomore shooting guard James Bishop (6-1).
Myers missed most of last season with a broken foot.
Bishop spent his freshman year getting acclimated to varsity.
“James is athletic and he can score. And he had a good year as a freshman,” Clatchey said. “He was up and down, but we expect him to be a consistent player. He’s a talented kid.”
Bishop and Myers, and a combination of juniors Kendall McMillan (5-10) and Tim McDonald (6-5), senior Jaden Robinson (6-5) and sophomore Ryan Marshall (6-3), were in the lineup in a zone press during a 9-0 run against Indian Creek that turned a 36-23 lead into a 45-23 advantage in the third quarter.
They forced nine turnovers in the quarter.
Marshall certainly caught the attention of his coach.
“Ryan Marshall played terrific defense,” Clatchey said. “He’ll earn minutes because he is willing to play defense. Most kids think If I go out and get buckets, I’m going to play, that’s not his role right now and I think he understands that.”
Rounding out the Gaels roster this season are junior guards Chantley Levi (5-7) and Shawn Wright (6-0), junior forward Mike Curtin (6-4), sophomore forward Albert Jackson (6-4) and sophomore guard Delonte July (6-3).
The Gaels open the MIAA A Conference schedule at home against Gilman on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.