Unknown to Archbishop Curley, last night was a sentimental journey of sorts for the St. Paul's Crusaders.
For 10 of their seniors, the Maryland Scholastic Association C Conference semifinal was to be their final home game, and they were determined to go out a winner.
By outscoring the Friars 14-0 to open the game, they all but assured that. The Crusaders outshot, out-rebounded and outplayed Curley en route to an 81-53 win.
"When it came down to playing in this gym for the last time, it meant a lot," said St. Paul's guard Rob Bouse, who scored 20, including five three-pointers. "A lot of people say the C Conference is nothing, but it wouldn't have mattered if this was the ZZ Conference. We wanted to go out a winner."
St. Paul's (19-8) advances to Sunday's 5 p.m. MSA C Conference championship game as part of the Metro Classic at the Arena. There, the Crusaders will shoot for their second straight league title against Severn, a 51-45 winner over St. Mary's in yesterday's other semifinal.
In this one, St. Paul's took control from the onset, outscoring Curley, 14-0, in the first five minutes, 27 seconds. The Crusaders held leads of 18-6, 24-8 and 30-9 before the Friars closed the gap with a second-quarter run.
"We had 10 seniors who wanted this, and that certainly made a difference," said St. Paul's coach Rick Collins. "We don't necessarily have a lot of ability, but our guys give a lot of blood, sweat and tears out there."
A lot of that effort went toward rebounding, where St. Paul's held a 45-28 advantage. The Friars had just one offensive rebound in the first half.
"They just killed us on the boards," said Curley coach Dan Popera, whose 7-24 team entered the game on the heels of consecutive wins over Lutheran and Boys' Latin. "We've been playing well the last couple of games, but today we just took too many bad shots."
Simms Jenkins led St. Paul's with 28 points, followed by Bouse and Josh Scheinker with 10.