One of the big questions facing Towson Catholic this season is how the Owls will respond to adverse situations without star guard Lafonte Johnson, who transferred to Dunbar.
Down as many as 16 points in the second half at McDonogh last night, the No. 5-ranked Owls got an answer. They shut out the 10th-ranked Eagles in the final quarter, rallying to win, 55-47.
Junior guard Keith Jenifer scored 12 points to lead Towson Catholic (4-1), and Aaron Early added 11 second-half points. Owen Daly led McDonogh (2-1) with 13 points.
Without coach Mike Daniel, who became ill in the afternoon, Towson Catholic eliminated a 14-point deficit within a six-minute stretch in the third and fourth periods. The Owls scored the game's final 22 points.
"We were out of sync in the first half," said senior guard Steve Johnson. "We came together and started playing with emotion. We didn't notice that they didn't score. We just were playing to get the win."
Said Towson Catholic assistant coach Joe Connelly, who filled in for Daniel: "We got away from what got us our first three wins, which was execution, moving the ball and getting everyone involved. Once we got down early, everyone tried to pick up the stack individually instead of collectively. This was a gut-check for us."
Early, a reserve, and Jenifer got the fourth-quarter comeback in motion, hitting consecutive three-pointers. Early drained another three with 4: 13 remaining to bring Towson Catholic even at 47.
Thabo Letsebe (six points) gave the Owls the lead with a basket off a feed from Early, then added another as Jenifer penetrated the lane and passed off.
After shooting 14-for-22 in the second and third quarters, McDonogh missed all eight, final-quarter attempts.
"They didn't do anything different. We just didn't execute," said McDonogh coach Matt MacMullan, whose team plays No. 4 Annapolis and national power Newport Prep this weekend. "We dominated them in the third, and they dominated us in the fourth."
The defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B champion Eagles had Towson Catholic stunned with their early half-court game, building a 31-22 halftime margin. McDonogh extended the lead to 41-25 midway in the third period.
Pub Date: 12/10/98