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Jalen Bryant scores 29 points to lift John Carroll boys basketball over McDonogh, 54-49

It wasn’t officially “Jalen Bryant Night” at the John Carroll-McDonogh boys basketball game Wednesday, but it might as well have been.

Bryant, a senior guard, poured in 29 points to lead the Patriots (5-5) past visiting McDonogh, 54-49, in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association game.

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“I just kept moving without the ball and my teammates were finding me and they were telling me, keep shooting, shooting,” Bryant said. “As I was shooting, the rim was huge, so I was building confidence and they were having confidence in me, so I just kept shooting.”

Bryant did most of his damage from beyond the 3-point line, making seven on the night. He also converted a pair of three-point plays.

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Bryant’s first 3-pointer came in the opening quarter, but it was McDonogh senior Jared Billups who scored five straight points to end the quarter with McDonogh ahead 14-9.

Bryant, though, scored 11 points in the second quarter to lead the Patriots on a 14-2 run. Bryant and Cesar Tchilombo both had three-point plays and Terry Long Jr. scored four of his six points as part of an 18-4 Patriots run. John Carroll had a 27-18 halftime lead.

“We’re going through some growing pains, right; he’s [Billups] our only senior, and we’re playing a ton of freshmen. They’re getting a ton of minutes for us,” McDonogh coach and 2004 Bel Air High School graduate T.J. Jordan said. “John Carroll, give them all the credit, they have guys that have been through the fire, those juniors, seniors that have been playing since they were freshmen. We were in it, but the youth movement definitely took its toll on us in that stretch when we had Jared go out the game.”

The Patriots kept rolling in the third quarter with Bryant leading the way. John Carroll’s aggressive defense forced several turnovers and Bryant tossed in four 3-pointers.

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Three-point plays by Tyson Commander and Tchilombo also contributed to 22 third-quarter points and the Patriots pushed the lead to 21, 49-28, with one quarter to play.

“We had some ups and downs, there’s no question. McDonogh was physical, they played hard and our guys just continued to battle,” Patriots coach Seth Goldberg said. “We always talk about focusing on what we can control, and in a game like that, it couldn’t be any more true. We definitely had some tough moments, but I’ll tell you, I really felt like our guys played hard.”

Thankfully, some of the tougher moments came in the final quarter. The Patriots made just two baskets and one of five free-throw attempts. The result: McDonogh outscored the Patriots 21-5 in the quarter to make things interesting.

Despite the scoring advantage for McDonogh, John Carroll was able to hold on for the win.

Bryant’s big night overshadowed that of McDonogh’s Billups, who’s headed to Siena. Billups finished with 25 points to lead the Eagles. Bryant covered him for much of the night.

“He’s a great player, I know him personally, but on the court, I tried to make it hard for him,” Bryant said of Billups. “I know I wasn’t going to fully stop him, but I just tried to contain him as much as I can. I think I did a good job with that.”

Tchilombo added 10 points for John Carroll. “It was a very physical game, one of the most physical games I played this season,” he said.

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