Trailing by eight points with a minute to play in regulation, host Mount St. Joe scored eight straight points to tie McDonogh, 55-55, in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinals.
James Bishop (game-high 32 points) hit the game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer and added six points in overtime and Tyler Brelsford (13 points) made six straight free throws in OT to seal the 69-64 win.
“That was probably the craziest game ever,” Bishop said. “I’ve never been a part of anything like that, to get that win with this group of guys, it just feels great to compete for a championship on Sunday.”
The Gaels will play for the MIAA title Sunday against St. Frances.
“If you are going to lose, don’t have any regrets, we fought back and fought back and we made enough plays,” Mount St. Joe coach Pat Clatchey said. “James hit that big shot and we made some free throws.”
Bishop described the sequence that led to his game-tying big shot.
“My teammate [Chandler Johnson] made a great defensive play, he got his hands on the ball and was able to tap it to me and once it got to me and I just reverted back to my training and just tried to lock in and hit the shot,” Bishop said. “It was crazy how open I was, the ball rolled and I was able to get a wide open shot and was able to hit it.”
Ausar Crawley added 16 points for the Gaels (26-6).
As good as Bishop was in the fourth quarter and overtime, when he scored 16 points, McDonogh’s Dave Brown was equally strong early in the game.
He scored the Eagles first 15 points and helped them to a 20-11 lead after one quarter.
He finished with a team-high 30 points.
“It was crazy, he was on a roll, he was hitting shots and their crowd was feeding off him it gave them a lot of momentum and we were just able to weather the storm and get a win,” Bishop said.
“He played a helluva game,” Clatchey added. “We knew he was a good player and he’s really talented.”
Drew Green added 13 points for the Eagles (18-9).
After Green’s putback with 1:07 left in regulation made it 55-47, Crawley made a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left, cutting the lead to five.
A steal and assist by Johnson led to a layup by Brelsford with 46 seconds left to make it 55-52.
A steal by Crawley led a missed 3–pointer by Bishop, but a pair of offensive rebounds by Wes Chairs and Johnson’s steal gave the LSU commit once more chance and he drained it.
“He was due for that, but we had the other situation before that, we had the loose ball and we didn’t come up with it,” Clatchey said.
Bishop felt he owed it to the team, after missing 3 of 4 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“When the leader is out there and he’s not saying no, and never say never, everybody is going to follow through and our guys are just tough,” Bishop said. “They just fought and they picked me up when I was down missing free throws. It was only right that I was able to help them.”
“We put five guys out on the floor, we went smaller, we were in scramble mode, but we couldn’t commit dumb fouls,” Clatchey said. “We got the stops when we needed them and Tyler was huge down the stretch, he got loose balls, rebounds and he was money from the foul line.”
McDonogh led 28-27 at halftime and 45-36 after three quarters.
They built the lead in the third quarter on strong offensive rebounding from Green, Lukas Michaelson and Curtis Jacobs.
Missing 4 of 5 free throws in the fourth quarter and the Gaels press didn’t allow them to pull away.
The largest lead they had was 52-42 with 4:05 left in regulation.
“Hats off to McDonogh, they are a really good team, really athletic, well-coached,” Clatchey said.
But, the coach had a message for his own team.
“I told the guys, you’ve got a chance to play for a championship and if you don’t take care of business here, you will sit around for a week waiting to play in the first round of the BCL [Baltimore Catholic League Tournament].”
The Gaels will play in the first round of the tournament at home on Wednesday, Feb. 20.