Host Glenelg Country pulled within one point of Mount Saint Joseph on five occasions in the fourth quarter Monday and then finally evened the score with less than two minutes to play.
Every time, the Gaels found the necessary answer.
The final one was a strong drive to the basket by junior guard Darryl Morsell with 1:03 to play, which was followed by three stops on defense and a closing free throw from senior Randy Miller as No. 2 Mount Saint Joseph secured a 60-57 win over the No. 10 Dragons in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference boys basketball game.
A balanced performance and an 11-0 run in the second quarter were the main components in the win for the Gaels, who improve to 13-2 and 5-0 in the league's Black Division. Glenelg Country, which got a game-high 20 points from junior guard Isaiah Burnett, falls to 9-5 and 5-3 in league play.
"We just bought into our roles and this was a good road win. Everybody is a good team in this league, so we all played as a team — bought in, rebounded and played hard on defense," said senior Pierre Johnson, who scored a team-high 12 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists.
Midway through the second quarter, the Gaels scored 11 straight points to build a 28-19 lead with Miles Wilson hitting a 3-pointer and freshman guard James Bishop scoring the next two baskets to start the run. But the Dragons got a 3-pointer from Caidon Owen and a three-point play from Burnett to hang around.
The home team never led in the second half, but always came close. Four of the five times the Dragons pulled within one point in the fourth quarter, the Gaels came back to score on the next possession with Miller, Johnson and Nigel Jackson providing baskets.
With the Gaels lead at 57-56, the Dragons finally made a defensive stop and then got one free throw from C.J. Wilson to tie the game at 57 with 1:47 to play. It was Morsell's turn to step up at the offensive end for the Gaels with the driving layup to give them the lead for good.
With eight seconds left, Miller made one of two free throws, so it was still a one-possession game. But a 3-point try by Glenelg Country's Matthew Bernetti from the right corner was off the mark at the buzzer.
In addition to Johnson's 12 points, Morsell finished with 10, Jalen Smith added nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, and five others had four or more points as the Gaels leaned on their depth to grind out the win. Mount Saint Joseph coach Pat Clatchey was more pleased with his team's first-half effort, but happy to get the league road win. His team's depth and tough early schedule paid dividends in the tight closing minutes.
"We've been in some tough games and we know this league is tough," he said. "I feel fortunate we won and I think Glenelg Country is a really good team."
Along with Burnett's big game, Glenelg Country got 11 points from junior Anthony Longpre with senior Joshua Hightower adding 10.
"The effort was great and hats off to Mount Saint Joseph, they're a great basketball team and very tough," Glenelg Country coach Kevin Quinlan said. "It was really a matter of [not] getting defensive stops and then [not] getting our big players good shots at the other end."
2 Mount St. Joseph 60, 10 Glenelg Country 57
MSJ – Johnson 12, Morsell 10, Smith 9, Miller 7, Jackson 6, Wilson 5, Robinson 4, Bishop 6, Kendall 1. Totals: 25 9-13 60
GC – Longpre 11, Bernetti 2, J. Hightower 10, Wilson 6, Burnett 20, Owen 6, Williams 2. Totals: 21 14-17 57
Half: MSJ, 35-27