At the start of the season, seeing a big lead quickly dwindle to three points would have put the John Carroll boys basketball team in panic mode.
But the Patriots’ confidence has steadily grown, and they have a different feel approaching the final week of the regular season.
So when visiting Loyola Blakefield made a late charge in the third quarter Friday night to make it a one-possession game, John Carroll found an answer.
Senior star Jeannot Basima had a sensational all-around performance that included 31 points, Rex Romain knocked down consecutive 3-pointers to end the Dons’ third-quarter run and Noah Miller opened the fourth with six straight points to send John Carroll past Loyola, 75-55.
The Patriots (13-15) won their third straight game and improved to 4-8 in the Baltimore Catholic League and 10-4 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference’s Black Division. Loyola (10-11) fell to 3-10 in the BCL and 9-5 in the MIAA A Black.
“At the start of the season, we didn’t have the fun like we’re having now and that’s the key to John Carroll basketball,” Basima said. “We just have to have fun every time we step onto the floor and stay together and be tough, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The home team started fast as Basima scored seven points and freshman Aidan Able hit a 3-pointer that gave John Carroll a 19-8 lead after one quarter.
The Patriots were able to maintain a double-digit lead into the third quarter, and when Theartis Battle beat the Dons up the court for an easy transition basket, the lead grew to 40-25 two minutes into the second half.
The Dons got back in the game with tough defense, strong work on the boards and points in the paint. They made a 12-0 run — Mason Ellison scored five of his team-high 17 points in the stretch — and when Colin Glorioso finished in transition with 2:15 left in the third, the Patriots’ lead was 40-37.
On Friday, it was Romain’s turn to step up at an important time. He buried a long-range 3 with 1:32 to play in the third quarter and then hit another 30 seconds later. When Miles Smith scored an inside basket on the Patriots’ next possession, the lead was back up to 48-38.
Miller sealed the win early in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3 and then converting a three-point play to push the lead to 54-41.
“That’s kind of been the story of our season. We really share it and it doesn’t matter who it is,” John Carroll coach Seth Goldberg said. “Tonight, Rex hit those 3s ... and then Noah. I think I can name six guys at different times who have been the one to make those shots.”
For the Dons, the uphill climb proved too difficult an assignment on the road.
“We just got off to a really slow start and then you’re battling to get back and we got ourselves back in the game, but they hit a couple big shots,” Loyola coach Josh Davalli said. “They had really good team play tonight — moving the ball really effectively — and that kind of wore us out at the end of the game.”
In the regular season’s final week, the Dons close with three home games, starting against Boys’ Latin at 7 p.m. Monday. John Carroll has one game left before the postseason, hosting Calvert Hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
LB — Brown 8, Drew 6, Ellison 17, Elliott 7, Hammond 4, Navarre 2, Nottingham 1, Glorioso 8, Battle-Olley 2. Totals: 16 21-33 55
JC — Basima 31, Chinnia-Falline 9, Able 3, Smith 4, Romain 6, Battle 14, Miller 8. Totals: 29 12-14 75
Half: JC, 36-24