Mount St. Joseph senior guard Jaylen Adams said he was a little nervous when the Gaels' big lead against St. Frances was cut to six points in the third quarter of Sunday's Baltimore Catholic League semifinal game.
It didn't look like it.
Adams responded with two free throws, a driving layup and then a 3-pointer — answering the Panthers with his own 7-1 run. He scored 22 of his game-high 28 points in the second half with six 3's as No. 2 Mount St. Joseph secured an 88-59 win over No. 8 St. Frances at UMBC's RAC Arena.
The Gaels will try to make it three straight BCL Tournament championships when they face No. 4 Calvert Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday at UMBC. The teams split two games in the regular season with both claiming road wins.
On Sunday, Adams had plenty of help with fellow seniors Jordan McNeil (20 points) and Phil Booth (15) also providing plenty of offense.
"I didn't really hit a lot in the first half, but I came out feeling it [in the third quarter] and just kept shooting. When the first one fell they all started falling," said Adams, whose 28 points was a career high. "They made a run and we knew we had to get some stops and once we started getting stops, we got some easy baskets and then all our shots started falling. I got a little bit nervous, but we picked it up and pulled it out."
After just getting past St. Maria Goretti, 68-65, in Friday's tournament opener, the Gaels started out fast on Sunday against the Panthers, building a 23-6 lead late in the first quarter with McNeil accounting for 10 points.
But the Panthers pulled within 35-23 at the half and then scored the first six points in the third quarter — a three-point play from sophomore guard Khalil Richards part of the momentum change — to cut the lead to 35-29 with 6:36 to play. Adams' seven straight points for the Gaels came in the next two minutes of play.
The Gaels took over from there.
Mount St. Joseph, now 31-4 with the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship already won, will look to win the program's sixth BCL Tournament crown.
"Three-peat," Adams said. "That's been our motto the whole week, so we're trying to get that. We've been practicing hard and we'll be ready for the game tomorrow."
St. Frances finishes its season with a 25-12 mark. Will Robinson led the Panthers with 15 points, while Dwayne Morgan added 13.
No. 4 Calvert Hall 59, No. 15 John Carroll 47:
The Cardinals, seeded first in the tournament, had to grind out the win against the fourth-seeded Patriots with a big third quarter proving to be the difference.
Trailing 29-25 early in the quarter, the Cardinals went on a 18-6 run that ended in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to build a 43-35 lead that would stand. Junior forward Evan Phoenix was the catalyst with strong play inside in the pivotal third. He converted consecutive three-point plays – the second giving Calvert Hall the lead for good at 33-30 with 3:28 left — and finished with 10 of his game-high 16 points in the quarter.
"The third quarter I was feeling good," Phoenix said. "My teammates gave me the ball, I had open opportunities and I made the shots. I got to thank my guards like Sean Mayberry who found me open a lot, good screens were set and we, offensively, we were doing everything right."
Nico Clareth added 14 and Drew Edwards scored 13 for the Cardinals, who also made 19 of 23 free throws to help secure the win.
The Cardinals improve to 28-5 on the season and will look to win the program's seventh BCL Tournament championship and first since the 2009-10 season.
John Carroll, which got 14 points from Jordan Martin and 13 from Kimbal Mackenzie, finishes its season with a 25-15 mark. The teams split two games in the regular season with both winning on their home floor.
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