Archbishop Spalding fans can be excused for getting out the brooms because their Cavaliers swept everything in basketball this year. Their boys team completed a 4-for-4 sweep last night, defeating St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown, 45-36, to win the 31st Baltimore Catholic League Tournament at Goucher College.
Before the varsity final, Spalding's boys won the JV title over McDonogh to match the girls varsity and JV champions. It is believed to be a first in the metro area.
The fourth-ranked Cavaliers (28-5) had won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title Sunday with a 61-54 victory over No. 6 Mount St. Joseph in the semifinals of what was a combined league for the first time.
With the BCL title goes an automatic berth to the prestigious Alhambra National Invitational, March 14-16 at Frostburg University in Cumberland.
In Spalding's third Baltimore Catholic League Tournament title in four years and the second sweep of season and tournament crowns under third-year coach Mike Glick, the defensive-minded Cavaliers tied the tournament record for fewest points scored by the victor in a BCL final.
St. Frances defeated Calvert Hall, 45-34, in 1995 and over the years the average score has been 65-57 in the championship games.
"If you had told me before the game that would be the final score, I figured we would have been on the losing end," Glick said.
Senior guard Landy Thompson anchored the Cavaliers' box-and-one defense that limited the Gaels to 34 percent shooting (14-for-41) and held the BCL's regular-season MVP, Matt Tanner, to 13 points.
"I didn't know how I would fit in here, but I thought I could do pretty good here, " said Thompson, who transferred his final year from Newport Prep.
"After a few weeks, I knew this team could win the championship. We knew we had to watch out for Tanner and I felt I could shut him down in our box-and-one."
Thompson scored nine points last night and had 41 in three tournament victories to earn tourney MVP honors. He called it "a team award."
"Our ability defensively to contest shots was the difference in the second half tonight, not giving No. 25 [Joey Breslin] and Tanner open looks," Glick said.
"In the fourth quarter we doubled up on Tanner because he's their best player and we weren't going to let him beat us. We made their other guys take the shots. Landy's defense on him was exceptional."
Tanner scored only two points in the final 10 minutes of play after hitting a three with two minutes left in the third period. He only got two shots in the last period.
Goretti's Breslin, a junior who had two three-pointers and nine points in the first half, managed only one three-pointer in the second half. That came with 2:40 left and the Gaels (24-11) trailing 38-32.
Will Bowers, a 6-foot-11 junior who had 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks, delivered a two-handed dunk with just over three minutes to go to give the Cavaliers a commanding 35-26 lead.
"No matter what they threw at us, we had the answer for it," Bowers said. "I can't put into words how this feels to win this tournament and this championship. I've never won anything this important in my life."
Spalding led 23-19 at the half of the low-scoring game and took a 28-26 lead into the final period. Six different Cavaliers scored down the stretch.
Thompson, sophomore Jesse Brooks and Bowers were named to the All-Tournament team with the Goretti pair of Tanner and Derrick Davis and J.J. Outlaw of Mount St. Joseph.