The Mount Saint Joseph basketball team is winning this season with every player doing their share, from hitting the timely shot to grabbing a key rebound to providing help on the defensive end.
That was evident against streaking Loyola Blakefield, with everybody having a part in the No. 4 Gaels’ 69-59 road win Wednesday.
Jason Edokpayi scored a team-high 19 points as the Gaels had four players reach double figures to improve to 13-3. The win puts them at 5-2 in both the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference Red Division and the Baltimore Catholic League. The No. 11 Dons (12-5) had their seven-game winning streak ended and fell to 5-3 in both leagues.
A good shooting night provided the Gaels with a double-digit advantage for much of the second half before the Dons rallied to cut the lead to 60-57 with 2:59 to play. At that point, it was Cam Sapienza’s turn to step up, taking a feed from Tyler Brelsford in transition and converting a three-point play to restore order. A tough putback from Will Sykes and four straight free throw makes by Brelsford — all coming in the final minute — sealed the win.
Sapienza hit three 3’s in the first half to finish with 15. Point guard Ausar Crawley took care of the ball and added 14. And Brelsford, the team’s leading scorer, didn’t score until the final minute of the first half, but ended with 11.
“I feel like today, everything seemed to be clicking,” said Edokpayi, who got the Gaels started with 10 first-quarter points after they were down 8-2 early. “I know our defense was a little scattered at the beginning, but we definitely picked it up and everything. It was just everyone had an all-around good game. ... We had everyone contributing something for us.”
In addition to the key follow basket in the closing minutes, Sykes biggest contribution came at the defensive end with his consistent play against All-Metro forward Mitch Fischer, who never completely found his rhythm despite finishing with 15 points.
“The key for us going into the game was staying in front of him. He’s a good player,” Sykes said. “We really keyed in on him, watched film on him. I just made sure I stayed in front of him, made it tough on him to get shots off.”
Loyola coach Josh Davalli felt his team played well, but the Gaels were just a little better.
The start of the second half was the biggest indicator. Loyola, down 35-26 at the break, got baskets from Fischer and Jordan Moore on their first two possessions. But Mount Saint Joseph got consecutive 3-pointers from Edokpayi, Brelsford and Crawley before Brelsford’s spinning drive and finish gave the Gaels a 46-30 lead with 5:19 to play.
The Dons went on an 11-2 run in the middle of the fourth quarter, with Fischer closing the run with a tough inside basket and 3-pointer, to cut the lead to 60-57 before the Gaels locked back in to secure the win.
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“I thought we battled hard. Things weren’t going our way at certain points but I felt like we fought through it,” Davalli said. “St. Joe played really well. They were making shots, making plays — I give a lot of credit to them. Their defense was good, they were clicking on offense. They played very well and we didn’t play well enough.”
Both teams return to the hardwood with road games Friday night. Mount Saint Joseph will travel to Archbishop Spalding, while Loyola visits Calvert Hall with both games set for 7 p.m.