Senior forward Steve Kraning sparked a second-quarter turnaround for No. 6 Loyola, helping the Dons topple No. 14 Calvert Hall, 62-51, yesterday in high school basketball at Blakefield.
The victory was the 19th of the season for the Dons (19-7), and improved their Catholic League record to 9-3. Calvert Hall dropped to 12-10 overall, 6-6 in the league.
The Dons remain two games behind league-leading Cardinal Gibbons, which defeated St. Frances yesterday, clinching at least a tie for the Catholic League regular-season championship. The No. 7 Crusaders will be heavily favored to capture the title outright when they meet last-place Archbishop Curley on Friday.
In a game in which shooting seemed a lost art, at least Loyola managed two solid periods -- the second and third -- in which it outscored Calvert Hall by 15 points to take command.
After connecting on only four of 14 field-goal tries in the first quarter, Loyola, which had beaten the Cardinals by 21 at Calvert Hall earlier this season, found itself trailing, 13-9.
But Kraning, who had missed his only shot in the first period while being closely guarded by Calvert Hall's Brian Matz, got hot in the second quarter. Kraning, 6 feet 6, scored 11 of his team's first 13 points in that quarter, including a three-pointer to put Loyola ahead to stay, 19-16, while Matz was getting a rest. Kraning had 18 points for the game.
The Dons ran off a 10-point spurt in the second quarter, building a 24-16 advantage with just less than three minutes left in the half. But Calvert Hall closed the gap to 27-23 on a pair of three-pointers from Jeremy Baker late in the quarter.
In the third quarter, Loyola hit eight of its first nine shots from the field (8-for-10 for the quarter) and pulled away to a 49-36 lead, as Jerry Hunt scored eight of his 12 points. Calvert Hall, meanwhile, continued its game-long shooting woes.
"There was a big stretch in the third quarter where we had to come down and score, and we weren't patient with our shots," said Cardinals coach Joe Baker. "In a situation like that we have to take better opportunities.
"Our defense wasn't that bad. They only scored 62 points and that isn't a lot of points. But we don't score enough."
For the game, Calvert Hall hit only 21 of 61 from the field (34 percent), and that figure was inflated by a strong offensive performance by junior Chris Wilson, who led all scorers with 24, on 9-for-17 shooting.
But Wilson got in early foul trouble, and when he had to sit out much of the second quarter the Dons made their run.
"I think our kids might have been a little overanxious in the beginning," Loyola coach Jerry Savage said of his team's slow start. "This is such a big rivalry. But at least we kept them from scoring more points than we did. Calvert Hall just had a tough time shooting the ball."