As if hitting seven 3-pointers was not enough, Calvert Hall junior Nico Clareth still had a couple of highlight-reel plays left in the closing seconds against John Carroll on Monday night.
The 6-foot-3 guard put an exclamation point on the No. 8 Cardinals' 75-64 victory with two, monster dunks, including one where he drove across the baseline for a reverse slam. Clareth finished with 27 points and Calvert Hall improved to 16-1 on the season with a key Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference win over the No. 10 Patriots. The Cardinals also improved to 7-1 in the league, trailing No. 4 St. Frances by a game.
"I just had the hot hand," Clareth said. "Like coach [John Bauersfeld] said in the locker room, everybody contributed on a different day, and I guess today was my day. I tried to do whatever I could to help the team win and we did."
Sean Mayberry also had 16 points and TJ Duckett added 15 for Calvert Hall, which is also 4-1 in the Baltimore Catholic League.
Elijah Long had 22 points and Kimbal Mackenzie finished with 19 points for the Patriots (13-7 overall, 3-1 MIAA, 2-1 BCL).
Calvert Hall led 30-24 at the break and methodically pulled away in the second half. After John Carroll tied the game at 34 with 4:27 left in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Lionel Owona, the Cardinals increased the pressure defensively and went on a 10-3 run. A 3-pointer by Duckett in the closing seconds increased the lead to 49-42 at the end of the quarter.
Clareth then took over the fourth quarter, hitting three, 3-pointers and then closing out the game on the consecutive dunks. Despite a superior height advantage, John Carroll struggled to get the ball inside against the Cardinals' quick defense
"They have a lot of size, but I think most teams we play will have a size advantage," Bauersfeld said. "We just try to play position D on big guys like that and box out as best we can. We do a good job rotating and that's stuff we do everyday in practice.
A pair of 3-pointers by Duckett gave Calvert Hall a 9-4 lead midway through the first quarter. However, John Carroll chipped away and pulled ahead, 10-9, on a pair of free throws by Long. The Cardinals then finished strong, retaking a 19-6 lead at the end of the quarter on a steal and layup by Mayberry and a pair of free throws by Rouse.
Calvert Hall maintained the lead throughout the second quarter and a 3-pointer by Reggie Rouse provided a 28-20 margin with just under three minutes in the half.
"I knew we had a chance to be good," Bauersfeld said. "We played well all summer. We are really doing a good job finding guys when they're hot."