The No. 2 Gaels rebound well, hit most of their free throws and make opponents work hard for their points.
Sluggish on offense in the first half against No. 14 Glenelg Country on Tuesday, the Gaels leaned on those strengths to stay close, then scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away with a 57-41 win over the visiting Dragons.
Sophomore guard Phil Booth scored a game-high 19 points, the Gaels hit 28 of 33 free throws and smart play down the stretch helped secure the win.
Mount St. Joseph improves to 10-0 overall and 5-0 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Glenelg Country, in its first season in the A Conference after winning the "B" title last year, falls to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Trailing 26-25 with 4:38 to play in the pivotal third quarter, the Gaels got four free throws from junior guard Kameron Williams, two baskets from sophomore forward Kyle Doran (11 points) and a basket from Booth to take a 35-26 lead against the determined and athletic Dragons.
"I thought we just started playing with more purpose and a greater sense of urgency. They're a physically talented team, very athletic and they pose some problems with their size and athleticism," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. "It really came down to getting stops, rebounding, and once we made that run, we were able to take care of business from there."
Consecutive 3-pointers from Doran and Booth to start the fourth quarter helped the Gaels take charge, pushing the lead to 43-29. Sophomore reserve guard Jaylen Adams was perfect from the line, scoring all 10 of his points on free throws, including six in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
While pleased with the 10-0 start, Booth seems well aware that the season is far from over.
"It's a good record …" he said somewhat reluctantly. "And we'll try to keep that zero in the [loss] column. These are big league games we're winning, so they're real important. "
The Dragons had some fine moments early to stay close, with junior forward Warren Powers (team-high 15 points) playing a strong game inside. But they know it will take time as they continue to make the adjustment to the A Conference.
"We take it one day at a time, one quarter at a time — that's the only way we can do it," Glenelg Country coach Kevin Quinlan said. "We definitely have our work cut out for us, and the guys are going to learn every time out. It's our first time through, it's a new world, it's a very intense and tough world — one of the best leagues on the East Coast."
GC—Powers 15, Boyd 7, Jove-Vives 8, Jones 3, Moune 2, Barnard 4, Davis 2. Totals: 15 10-14 41.
MSJ—Booth 19, Williams 8, Doran 11, Adams 10, Long 5, Lawrence 2, Jones 2. Totals: 14 28-33 57.