No. 8 Loyola built a 17-point first- half lead and then held off the repeated comeback attempts by Mount St. Joseph for a 61-56 victory at Blakefield last night to earn a berth in the MSA Armstrong Conference A Division championship game.
The Dons, 24-9 overall, will meet Towson Catholic for the Armstrong title at Gilman at 7:45 p.m. tonight. The Owls defeated Calvert Hall, 76-59, at home to advance to the championship game. It will be the fourth meeting of the year between the Dons and the Owls and the third in the past 10 days.
Senior guard Warren Parker scored 18 points, including six in the closing minutes, as regular-season leader Loyola staved off the upstart Gaels (17-14), seeded No. 4.
Loyola also got 14 points from Jerry Hunt and a strong game inside from Wes Unseld Jr., who scored eight.
"This whole season our guys have earned respect," said Gaels coach Pat Clatchey of his team's comeback effort. "But Loyola got tough when they had to and made free throws down the stretch. They did what they had to do to win."
Parker scored six in the closing minutes, starting an 8-0 run with a driving basket along the baseline off a feed from Unseld. The Dons then hit six free throws to open a 60-51 lead with 53 seconds left.