Top-seeded St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown spent most of the second half at the foul line and took advantage to defeat third-seeded and No. 5 Towson Catholic, 59-53, to win the 30th Baltimore Catholic League Tournament last night at Goucher College.
The Gaels made 20 of 28 free throws in the second half to overcome an incredible finish by Towson Catholic's Carmelo Anthony. He scored 16 of his game-high 28 points in the last five minutes, as the Owls rallied from a 45-31 deficit.
Anthony's layup with 3:20 left pulled Towson Catholic to 49-46, but they never got any closer.
Goretti (24-9) and Towson Catholic (27-7) earned berths in the prestigious Alhambra Invitational in Cumberland on St. Patrick's Day weekend, and No. 12 Mount St. Joseph (22-10), the BCL's fourth seed, was a surprise addition.
Mount St. Joseph lost, 56-53, to Goretti in Friday's semifinals and will make its first trip to the Alhambra.
Goretti made its first 14 free-throw attempts in the second half and finished the game with nearly double the chances from the line of Towson Catholic's 11-for-18 performance.
Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniel declined to comment on whether the officials called the game too close on his players. He would only say, "They beat us, and I guess it was Goretti's turn to win it."
Goretti is 4-0 in BCL finals, having won three straight from 1985 to 1987 during the Rodney Monroe era. Goretti's Matt Tanner scored 18 points, giving him 56 over three games and Most Valuable Player honors, joining Monroe, who went on to star at North Carolina State after three BCL MVP awards.
Tanner, a 6-foot-4 junior, was 8-for-10 from the line, while senior teammate Rodney Gibson, the regular-season MVP, was 8-for-8 on free throws and led the Gaels with 23 points. Derrick Davis' seven points and superb defense earned him All-Tournament honors with Tanner.
"We were only 6-for-16 from the line Friday, but today, we hit our foul shots, and that was important," said Goretti coach Cokey Robertson, whose 656 career wins places him second in Maryland high school history.
"And, we took care of the ball, while making clutch shots."
Two of those clutch shots came from Tanner and Gibson down the stretch. The Gaels shot 46 percent (17-for-37) for the game.
Towson Catholic's floor game didn't show up, as the Owls hit only six of 29 shots in the first half and 19 of 61 (31 percent) for the game.
Darnell Hopkins, who scored 47 points in the first two games, scored only two yesterday before fouling out.
Towson Catholic swept Goretti in the regular season by scores of 69-45 and 56-54 to finish second at 9-5 behind Goretti and Archbishop Spalding, who tied for first at 10-4.
It was Towson Catholic's third appearance in the final in four years and seventh overall. The Owls last won in 1998, their fourth championship.
Towson Catholic's Anthony and Hopkins, J. J. Outlaw of Mount St. Joseph and Cardinal Gibbons' Rocky Brown joined Tanner and Davis on the All-Tournament team.
The BCL Sportsmanship Award went to Gibbons' Luke McCrone.
Mount St. Joseph won the BCL JV title, 43-37, over Archbishop Spalding.
TOWSON CATHOLIC--Anthony 28, Darn. Hopkins 2, Joynes 13, Smith 5, Hunter 1, Miles 2, Darr. Hopkins 2. Totals 19 11-18 53.
GORETTI--Gibson 23, Tanner 18, Spierenburg 11, Davis 7. Totals 17 24-35 59.
(All games at University of Maryland, College Park) State semifinals Thursday
Class 3A Randallstown vs. Westlake, 3 Crossland vs. Thomas Johnson, 5
Class 4A Lake Clifton vs. E. Roosevelt, 7 Arundel vs. Magruder, 9 Friday
Class 1A Pikesville vs. Oakland Mills , 3 Snow Hill vs. Southern-Garrett, 5
Class 2A Dunbar vs. Fairmont Heights, 7 Wicomico vs. Fort Hill, 9 State finals Saturday
Class 1A, 1 p.m.
Class 3A, 3 p.m.
Class 2A, 6 p.m.
Class 4A, 8 p.m.
(All games at UMBC) State semifinals Thursday
Class 4A Western vs. Suitland, 3 Arundel vs. Churchill, 5
Class 3A Milford Mill vs. Westlake, 7 Bladensburg vs. Paint Branch, 9 Friday
Class 2A Dunbar vs. Fairmont Heights, 3 Stephen Decatur vs. Urbana, 5
Class 1A Bohemia Manor vs. Glenelg, 7 North Dorchester vs. Southern, 9 State finals Saturday
Class 2A, 1 p.m.
Class 4A, 3 p.m.
Class 1A, 6 p.m.
Class 3A, 8 p.m.