When Mount Saint Joseph forward Nigel Jackson converted a three-point play with four seconds left in the first half of Sunday's Baltimore Catholic league semifinal against Calvert Hall, he became the eighth Gaels player to score.
By then, it was evident: Mount Saint Joseph was the deeper, bigger and more athletic team.
The No. 3 Gaels, the tournament's top seed, led by 20 at halftime and cruised to Monday's title game with a 93-51 win over the defending champion and fourth-seeded Cardinals at Towson University's SECU Arena. Randy Miller and Miles Wilson each scored 17 points for the Gaels, who had five players reach double figures and 12 total score in the convincing win.
Mount Saint Joseph improved to 31-4 overall and will take on No. 6 John Carroll in the BCL final.
“It's playoff time. You got to win and move on and learn from the game before,” coach Pat Clatchey said. “It's been a crazy season with the weather and playing all the games in a row. I think we're starting to get our legs back a little bit, starting to get a little rhythm and flow, and I'm just really proud of my guys tonight. Everybody that touched the floor contributed, and as a coach, that's something that's real exciting to see.”
The Gaels came away with two comfortable wins over Calvert Hall in the regular season, beating the Cardinals, 66-42, at home Jan. 15 and then coming away with a 68-41 road victory Feb. 4. They picked up right where they left off, never trailing Sunday after opening with the game's first five points.
A 3-pointer by Miller early in the second quarter gave the Gaels their first double-digit lead, 23-12, and they pushed it to 20 with strong defense and rebounding and aggressive driving on offense. They got to the free-throw line 19 times in the first half, making 15.
Sophomore Brendan Adams scored 12 points to lead Calvert Hall, which finished the season with a 17-14 mark.
No. 6 John Carroll 60, No. 1 St. Frances 33: The Patriots (24-10) controlled the tempo and leaned on strong team defense and a balanced offense to upset the Panthers and reach the BCL title game for the second straight year.
Tied at 10 late in the first quarter, John Carroll scored eight straight points and 20 in the second overall to build a 33-18 halftime lead. Immanuel Quickley, Michael Tertsea, Jahbril Price-Noel and Junior Farquhar each had six points in the first half.
Defensively, the Patriots contained St. Frances' dynamic senior backcourt of Daquan Bracey and Kurk Lee Jr. Bracey, the league's Co-Player of the Year, was held to two free throws midway through the second quarter, and Lee, a first-team all-league pick, later hit his first two field goals of the game. The trend continued in the second half, with the Patriots leading by as many as 29 points.
Quickley led John Carroll with 16 points, while the Patriots limited Bracey and Lee to a combined 15 points.
“Obviously, we changed defenses and really focused on other people beating us. If you saw earlier in the game, [Eral Penn] hit a jumper, [George Sydnore] hit a jumper, but at the end of the day, we weren't going to let those two guys beat us,” Patriots coach Tony Martin said.
Last season, John Carroll fell to Calvert Hall in the title game, 53-52, on a last-second tip-in by the Cardinals.
St. Frances, which won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference crown this month, is 30-9 overall.