It was a lackluster effort, but top-ranked Mount St. Joseph got it done with a 57-49 victory over Cardinal Gibbons last night in the first round of the 35th Baltimore Catholic League tournament at Loyola College.
The victory leaves the Gaels (34-0) tying the 1981-82 Mark Amatucci-coached Calvert Hall team for most total wins and most consecutive wins in a season by a Baltimore metro-area team.
The Gaels will play Amatucci's Cardinals tonight in the BCL semifinals at 7 p.m. for a chance to break the record and advance to their third BCL final in four years and earn their third tournament title in as many tries.
"We're going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight to win again," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. "I'm not happy about how we played. Gibbons had a good game plan. ... [Gibbons] lulled us to sleep and I hope this was a wake-up call."
Mount St. Joseph had a 23-18 lead at the half, and led 39-32 after three quarters. The Crusaders (7-21) stayed close thanks to Jamar Briscoe scoring all 11 of his points in the third for Gibbons. The Gaels built a 47-34 lead with 2:58 left.
Calvert Hall 37, Loyola 27 -- In a low-scoring game that featured much more passing and missed shots than scoring, the Cardinals (18-14), who lost twice in the regular season to the Dons (15-12), had 6-foot-9 Maryland-bound junior Braxton Dupree step up in the fourth quarter to advance to tonight's semifinal. Dupree, who had a game-high 16 points and 15 rebounds, had five rebounds down the stretch.
Guard Russell Frederick scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. "Those two were the difference and stepped up in the last period," Amatucci said. "Our defense was outstanding, holding them to just 27 points."
No. 4 Towson Catholic 61, Archbishop Spalding 43 -- Playing without standout Donte' Greene, the Owls survived a bit of a scare facing the inspired, sixth-seeded Cavaliers. Playing under Ralph Burley, the longtime Cavaliers assistant who replaced Mike Glick when the latter resigned last week, Spalding was in the game until midway through the final period, when the Owls pulled away.
"It was a disciplinary reason and Donte' will play [today]," Owls coach Josh Pratt said, explaining why the 6-foot-9 junior sat on the bench the entire game. "It's all over and done, and I'm happy with the way Donte' supported his teammates."
Kevon Moore, who scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, tied the game at 23 for Spalding (14-19) at the end of the first quarter.
The Owls (26-9) had a 38-34 lead at the end of the third quarter and pushed it to 42-34 on a basket and two free throws by Malcolm Delaney, who led the victors with 17 points. Ron Nicholson, who had 15 points, hit a basket that gave the Owls a 48-38 lead with 4:13 remaining that put the Owls on their way.
No. 8 St. Frances 70, St. Maria Goretti 41 -- The seventh-seeded Gaels (9-22) were no match for the second-seeded and defending champion Panthers (24-9), who raced out to a 48-18 halftime lead and coasted to victory.
Dishawn Bradshaw led the winners with 16 points, followed by 13 from Rashawn Alexander and 11 from Aric Brooks.
The Panthers play in tonight's first semifinal at 5:15 against Towson Catholic. A dollar from every ticket purchased at the tournament is going to the Neil Jones Education Fund. Jones, who was an assistant coach at Cardinal Gibbons, was shot to death in Baltimore and left a wife, Kenya, and three email@example.com