St. Mary's couldn't have picked a better time to take on county private school rival Archbishop Spalding.
The host Saints caught the Cavaliers on the heels of an emotional win over Friends two days earlier, topping their flat foes, 58-41, in the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference boys basketball finale for both clubs.
After jumping out to a 29-17 lead with 2 minutes, 27 seconds leftin the second quarter, St. Mary's (9-12 overall, 8-4 conference) allowed the Cavaliers (6-15, 6-6) to bring the lead down to eight, thanks to Matt Shaw's bank shot, and two free throws by Edgar Wright.
With one minute left in the half, Rory Kiernan's baseline jumper, combined with Mike Greenlee's three-pointer just before the buzzer, gave the winners a 34-21 cushion and enough momentum to carry through the rest of the game.
"We just didn't come out fired-up. We didn't show any emotion in the locker room before the game, or on the floor," said Spalding coach Lee Dove.
"We were so worried about getting into the (MSA) playoffs on Friday, that we didn't have any intensity left."
The Saints went on a 14-2 run for nearly three-fourths of the third period, keeping Spalding scoreless until 2:45 remained, as Pat Mohr (team-high 14 points) drove down the lane for a double-clutch layup.
Kiernan, a bullish 6-3 center -- who totaled game-highs of 16points and 19 rebounds -- scored eight points during the run on two jumpers, a layup and a baby hook.
"We just did a great job on the boards today, especially Rory and Ed Zelezen (11 rebounds and 10 points)," said Saints mentor Jim Sheehan, whose club enjoyed a 50-30 edgeon the boards. The fourth-place club is a lock for the conference playoffs.
Sheehan added, "Charlie McCloud didn't have his usual gameon offense, so it was nice to see people like Zelezen and (Mark) Keifer step in and do the job."
McCloud, who was held to one point inthe second half, finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Keifer chipped in with seven points.
Doug Little added 10 points for the Cavs, while Rich Reilly contributed nine points and a team-high12 rebounds.
Spalding will get a chance to avenge its loss tomorrow, when it faces St. Mary's in the opening round of the Independent Schools Tourney at Baltimore's Gilman School.
"We definitely won'ttake them lightly on Tuesday," said Sheehan.
"I'm kind of concerned about playing them back to back. They have a potentially explosiveoffense, but the shots just weren't falling for them today. I'd think some of that had to do with our defense."