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John Carroll holds off late charge from Mount Saint Joseph to secure 67-65 upset win in BCL quarterfinals

In the first quarter of Monday night’s Baltimore Catholic League quarterfinal, visiting John Carroll came out with more energy than Mount Saint Joseph. Eleven second-chance points provided the proof.

In the second quarter, the sixth seeded Patriots simply didn’t miss much.

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The impressive work staked them to a stunning 28-point advantage in the first minute of the third quarter, which proved just enough.

Third-seeded Mount Saint Joseph made a valiant push, cutting the lead to four with 1:49 to play, but the Patriots got a gutsy 3-pointer from Tyson Commander and made free throws at the end to close out a 67-65 win. The Gaels got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from D’Angelo Stines to close out the scoring.

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John Carroll, which got 22 points from Commander, won its seventh straight to improve to 9-5 and move on to the semifinal round. The Patriots will take on second-seeded Archbishop Spalding — a 61-58 winner over seventh-seeded St. Maria Goretti — in Wednesday’s first semifinal game set for 5:30 p.m. at Calvert Hall.

Top-seeded and three-time defending champion St. Frances — an 89-61 winner over eighth-seeded Calvert Hall — will meet fourth-seeded Mount Carmel — a 66-63 winner over fifth-seeded Loyola Blakefield — in the semifinal nightcap at Calvert Hall at 7:30.

After a disheartening 63-61 loss at Gilman put John Carroll at 2-5 on the season, the Patriots have found their way with selfless and free-spirited play. After Mount Saint Joseph’s Sean Carr scored an inside basket to cut the lead to 58-54 with 1:49 to play, Commander responded eight seconds later with a reassuring 3-pointer. The basket has defined the team’s confidence level in its winning stretch.

“They went on their run, so I had a big shot I had to take — I knocked it down and we had to get the next stop,” he said. “We attack, have the most fun as possible and know the game is going to come to us.”

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Six straight free throws followed — the first two from Cesar Tchilombo and the next four by Jalen Bryant — to send the Patriots on to the semifinals. Spalding claimed a 78-68 win against John Carroll on Feb. 22.

Bryant, the team’s senior leader at guard, said the Patriots have grown significantly since the loss at Gilman with a more positive mindset playing a key role.

“When we came into the season, we started off a little slow and I think a lot of people wrote us off. But we knew what we could do,” he said. “So after that Gilman game, we just really had to lock in and that’s what we’ve been doing the last few games.”

The Patriots were completely locked in during Monday’s first half. Tied at 9, they closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run capped by Bryant’s three-point play with two seconds left for a 19-11 lead.

With Commander the catalyst in the second quarter — he made two 3 pointers and turned a steal into a jaw-dropping dunk — the lead reached 43-18 at the break.

When Bryant opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer on the Patriots’ opening possession, the visitor’s lead was at its biggest at 46-18.

But the Gaels, who got 22 points from Stines and 21 from fellow senior Ausar Crawley, picked up their tempo to chase down points and chipped away in the third quarter. Stines scored 10 of his points in the frame to help cut the lead to 50-34 before their season’s final stand came midway through the fourth. Trailing 56-38 with 5:35 left, the Gaels went on a 16-2 run behind Stines and Jalen Tucker to pull within 58-54 and 1:49 left. But the Patriots didn’t buckle any further.

John Carroll coach Seth Goldberg wasn’t surprised.

“At the end of the day, the confidence that they have in each other, the freedom I give them, they’ve earned,” he said. “They flat out know, they talk about what that looks like, so when you get in those moments, I trust my guys. I will trust them until the cows come home.”

Mount Saint Joseph, which finished 10-3, isn’t used to early exits in the BCL playoffs. Veteran coach Pat Clatchey also isn’t used to seeing his team come into a big game not ready to play. In the end, the hole ended up too big.

“One of my favorite quotes is — and I use it about four or five times a year and it was on the board today — it’s just, ‘Casualness creates casualties.’ This is a tough league and you have to be physically and mentally ready to compete and play and I’m not sure collectively we were there with that today,” he said.

“I just felt like their effort, energy and intensity just really dictated the first half of the game and we got back on our heels and you can’t do that — not at this time of the year. It was extremely disappointing, it was frustrating. It was a valiant effort in the second half, but this is the time of year you either win or you lose, and if you lose, you’re going home, and we’re going home.”

The remainder of the tournament — Wednesday’s semifinals and Friday’s championship game at 6 p.m — will be hosted by Calvert Hall. There will be no attendance for the games, but fans can livestream all three of the remaining games with the cost of $10 per round. For more information, go to bclbasketball.com.

JC — Bryant 14, Commander 22, Basima 10, Tchilombo 7, Vaughn 5, Jakubowski 5, Long Jr. 2, Turay 2. Totals: 23 16-22 67

MSJ — Stines 22, Tucker 9, Carr 9, Crawley 21, Abrams 2. Totals: 22 14-18 65

Half: JC, 43-18

St. Frances 89, Calvert Hall 61: Five players finished in double figures with senior guard Khyrie Staten (20 points, five assists, four steals) and freshman center Derik Queen (19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) leading the three-time defending league champion Panthers (14-0) to a comfortable win. Senior junior Julian Reese added 15 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.

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