Some wins seem to have more meaning for a successful team, a greater impact over the course of a long basketball season.
Calvert Hall had one of those victories Sunday afternoon at Mount St. Joseph.
After impressively building a 15-point lead and then seeing it disappear — all mostly happening in the fourth quarter — the Cardinals showed poise in a dramatic final minute that they will long savor.
Junior guard Reggie Rouse was the biggest hero at the end for the No. 7 Cardinals as he hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 53 seconds left and then added two free throws with 2.3 seconds left. After Mount St. Joseph senior guard Phil Booth's desperation heave near midcourt was well off the mark, Calvert Hall had sealed a character-building 69-66 upset win over the No. 3 Gaels at packed Smith Center.
Junior guard Drew Edwards, who hit 3 of 4 free throws in between Rouse's points in the final minute, finished with a team-high 16 points for the Cardinals, who improved to 21-3 overall. Calvert Hall moves into a first-place tie with No. 6 St. Frances in the Baltimore Catholic League — both teams are 7-2 in the league — and the Cardinals are 10-3 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, just behind the Panthers' 9-2 record.
Mount St. Joseph, which was led in scoring by Booth with 26 points, fell to 21-4 overall, 7-3 in the BCL and 9-3 in the MIAA. It was the Gaels' first loss in their new gymnasium after opening the season with 10 straight home wins, and the defeat also ended their nine-game winning streak.
After the Cardinals fell to Mount St. Joseph, 62-57, in overtime at home in the teams' first matchup on Dec. 11, Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said the difference was the savvy play of the Gaels' seniors in the extra time.
How big is Sunday's win for the Cardinals, who are mostly comprised of underclassmen?
"Huge, huge, huge," Bauersfeld said. "To come in here and win at a place they hadn't lost at, against a great team and the best coach [Pat Clatchey] in the area, it's just a huge win for us."
The Gaels led, 39-30, after Booth hit a 3-pointer with 4:35 left in the third quarter. That's when Calvert Hall started making shots, getting regular stops defensively and rebounding to get the ball back.
The Cardinals had five players reach double figures in scoring, and all stepped up to help them climb back in the game.
Junior guard Nico Clareth's 3-pointer with 1:14 to play in the third quarter gave Calvert Hall a 44-42 lead. It was part of a 15-0 run in which he scored six more of his 13 points — including a thunderous dunk — and the Cardinals eventually built a 60-45 advantage with 4:10 to play.
The home team, behind senior Jaylen Adams (19 points) and Booth, responded with a 16-1 run that tied the game at 61 with 1:16 remaining.
One of the biggest differences Bauersfeld said between his Cardinals now and when they first lost to Mount St. Joseph in December was their depth. Rouse, who came off the bench and scored 10 points, is a prime example.
After junior forward Evan Phoenix (13 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots) pulled down an offensive rebound, he kicked it out to Rouse for the 3-pointer to give the Cardinals the lead back at 64-61.
"When I got the ball, I actually wasn't paying much attention to the score at the time, and I just shot it with confidence and knocked it down," Rouse said.
After the Cardinals got a stop, Edwards hit two free throws to push the lead to 66-61 with 20 seconds to play before Mount St. Joseph sophomore forward Daveyon Barnes answered with an inside basket to cut the lead to 66-63 with eight seconds left.
Edwards came back to hit one free throw to make it 67-63 with seven seconds left before Booth hit an off-balance 3-pointer to cut the Cardinals lead to 67-66 with 3.7 seconds left. Rouse then went back to the line with 2.3 seconds left.
"I missed a big free throw against Glenelg Country [a 71-70 loss last Sunday], and I felt that was on me. So I took dedication to shoot free throws right after that game. So going to the free-throw line, I knew I was going to knock them down," he said.
The Cardinals defended the ensuing inbounds play well. Barnes threw a long pass to midcourt that Booth had to chase down on the left side before forcing an off-balance shot.
"They beat us at our place, so we knew we had to get them back," said Edwards, who also had five rebounds and two assists. "This right here was a statement game and to be able to come back and beat them was huge. That's all we wanted. Everything is about confidence. If you don't have confidence, how are you going to win? That's the key for us."
7 Calvert Hall 69, 3 Mount St. Joseph 66
CH – Wallace 10, Phoenix 13, Duckett 7, Edwards 16, Rouse 10, Clareth 13. Totals: 23 20-25 69.
MSJ – Booth 26, McNeil 12, Adams 19, Doran 4, Johnson 3, Barnes 2. Totals: : 19 23-27 66.
Half: MSJ, 31-25