Senior James Bishop scored 11 of his game-high 31 points to get No. 3 Mount St. Joseph off to a hot start and the host Gaels (5-1) never let up in a 93-50 victory over No. 8 Gilman (1-2) in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference opener on Wednesday night.
“I just try to come out and set the tone, be aggressive and my team needs that, so that’s just what I come out and try to do,” said Bishop, who will play at LSU next season.
The game was tied 10-10 when Bishop fed Antonio Hamlin for a three-pointer with 1:40 left in the quarter to ignite an 8-0 run to end the quarter.
Bishop’s fast-break layup and three-pointer, with 16 seconds left in the quarter, and early bucket in the second pushed the lead to 20-10.
Gilman got within six twice in the quarter, but the Gaels outscored them 19-5 in the final four minutes and took an insurmountable 43-23 halftime lead.
Junior shooting guard Tyler Brelsford (16 points) hit three three-pointers in the span of 70 seconds during the stretch.
“He’s a great shooter without me, but when I got it going early that just brings energy to the whole team,” Bishop said. “After that, everybody was hitting.”
Bishop added 12 in the third quarter and broke the 30-point barrier less than three minutes into the fourth.
“When James is locked in and focused on both ends, he’s a really good player,” St. Joe coach Pat Clatchey said. “He can just score so many ways. He scores almost effortlessly.”
Sophomore point guard Ausar Crawley scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and Clatchey praised the entire backcourt, which included freshman Hamlin, junior Chandler Johnson and senior Wes Chairs off the bench.
“We think our guards are really the strength of our team,” Clatchey said. “They are multiple ball handlers, guys who can pass, guys who can make shots.”
Guards are also Gilman’s strength and they were led by senior point guard Jalen Rucker, junior shooting guard Jordan Foster (15 points each) and sophomore wing Malik Missouri (14).
“He (Rucker) is a really good player and the kid Missouri is a really good player,” Clatchey said. “We just tried to rotate different guys on Rucker.”
Bishop also took pride in his team’s defense.
“We knew they had good guards, so we had to get low to the ball, play good outside defense and keep them out of the lane as much as possible and we came out and executed,” he said.
Despite winning five of six, Clatchey knows his squad, that includes only one senior starter (Bishop), has much more work to do.
“We are a work in progress,” Clatchey said. “It’s early in the season and we lost four starters from a year ago.”
Included in that group was Jalen Smith, who is starting as a freshman with the University of Maryland, along with former Gael, sophomore Darryl Morsell.
Freshman Javonte Brown, a transfer from Ontario, brings his 6-foot-10 frame to the interior for the Gaels.
He scored 10 points against Gilman.
“Javonte is coming around,” Clatchey said. “He’s been a welcome addition. He’s a terrific young man and he’s done a great job in the classroom and he’s working hard on the court.”