Mount Saint Joseph only outscored Calvert Hall in one of four quarters on Wednesday night, but the 22-4 advantage in the second quarter was enough as the No. 3 ranked Gaels defeated the visiting Cardinals, 73-62.
The win was the 14th straight for the Gaels, who improved to 22-3 overall and 12-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
Calvert Hall dropped to 7-15 overall and 6-7 in conference play.
Jalen Smith led the Gaels with 26 points and 10 rebounds and he did most of his damage after the first quarter, which Calvert Hall led, 14-13, thanks to six points from Montez McNeil (12 points) and stingy defense.
After a free throw by Brendan Adams made it 15-13, the Gaels went on a 9-0 run that started with a three-pointer by James Bishop (19 points).
Smith started the second quarter with a vicious block and followed that with a left-handed putback dunk for an 18-15 lead.
He finished the quarter with eight points and three blocked shots.
“Coach Clatchey and the rest of the coaches said I needed to be more aggressive and pump the team up more and once I did that we just took off,” said Smith, whose nickname is ‘Stix’.
Smith, who will play at the University of Maryland next year, was guarded by Kevin Collier in the first quarter, but he got in foul trouble.
“I thought Collier played well defensively in the first quarter and he got in foul trouble so we sat him in the second, so we probably should have gone back to him,” Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said. “I thought he played Stix pretty well, but Stix went off in the second quarter there and got some easy looks.”
The top four teams in each division make the playoffs and Calvert Hall is currently in fourth in the Red Division with a 6-7 record.
“It’s been a tough year for us overall, but I think we are playing better and better every day,” Bauersfeld said. “I think I’m most proud of them because we’ve had such a difficult season and there is just no quit in these kids.”
Two free throws by Amir Jenkins cut the lead to eight, 57-49, with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter, but Smith was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and he scored 10 points in the quarter to seal the victory.