Pallotti coach Dennis Kirkland had his team prepared for what visiting Loyola Blakefield was going to do offensively on Friday night when the Panthers hosted the Dons in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game.
But his under-sized squad couldn’t contain 6-foot-8 Loyola junior Mitch Fischer or 6-7 junior Cam Smith as they combined for 49 points in the Dons’ 70-57 victory.
“We knew what they were doing, but we still didn’t play off the ball early, so we let them get to their spots and we have to do better, we are better,” Kirkland said. “When they get to their spots, they are good, they are bigger then us, we just can’t let them get to their spots.”
Fischer, who had a game-high 26 points, had many spots to choose from.
He scored eight of his nine points inside when the Dons (11-4 overall, 4-2 conference) took a 20-17 first-quarter lead.
He added two three-pointers in the second half and nailed 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter to salt away the victory.
Loyola coach Josh Davalli had no problem watching Fischer launch three-pointers after he established his inside presence early.
“If we can play that way offensively in January and February, I think we can have some success because we have some guys who can score on the inside and we also have some guys who can score on the outside,” Davalli said. “I think we have some threats out there on offense and we were able to put that together a little bit tonight.”
Fischer, who was also instrumental in breaking the Panthers press in the second half, likes having the green light from the perimeter.
“He gives me confidence to shoot the ball through the offense and I also work on it every day, so it’s nothing new to me,” Fischer said.
While Kirkland likes to see his top scorers filling it up, the first-year Pallotti coach Kirkland knows defense will be the key to the team’s progress.
“We just didn’t defend well. If we defend well, we win,” Kirkland said. “Two games ago, we defended and our two leading scorers had maybe had six points and we won by double-digits, but we defended well.”
They did show glimpses of pressure defense early in the fourth quarter when they went to a smaller lineup and got a pair of steals from Jackson and one each from Donald Carpenter and Blunt.
Freshman Devon Williams came off the bench to create some defensive havoc and Mouganda scored eight points in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough to get them over the hump.
“We have depth, that’s our strength, but we have to be consistent, we haven’t been consistent, that’s our problem,” said Kirkland, noting Blunt, Jackson and Walker are transfers into the program.
Jackson finished with a team-high five rebounds and team-high three steals and he and Blunt both had four assists.
“We’ve just got to buy in to the system and trust. We have a new system and they are trying to learn,” Kirkland said. “They know their system, he (Davalli) has been running it a long time.”
The system works even better when they dominate on the offensive glass like they did against the Panthers. “
"We are a pretty good rebounding team when we are able to put our minds to it,” Davalli said. “It’s something that we are trying to be more consistent at, regardless of the team, but because of their athleticism it gets nullified a little bit, but I guess that was an advantage tonight for us.”
The coach was also satisfied to get a league win on the road.
“We knew coming down here it was going to be tough because they are a team that can go on runs,” Davalli said. “They have got some guys who can make the three and they’ve got some guys who can finish around the rim and any time you are playing at home that momentum can be a little easier to come by.”
Loyola Blakefield 70
Mitch Fischer 26, Cam Smith 23, Charlie Koras 8, Niko Georgelis 7, Jordan Moore 4, Owen Fischer 2.