Playing its first game in three weeks, the No. 5 Mount Carmel boys basketball team understandably showed a little rust Thursday at No. 9 Loyola Blakefield.
But the Cougars showed more talent, depth and togetherness in the game’s pivotal moments.
Led by a sensational triple-double by 6-foot-10 sophomore center Luke Bamgboye, who finished with 15 points, 14 blocked shots and 10 rebounds, the Cougars started fast and pulled away for an 84-66 win over the Dons.
Mount Carmel improved to 9-1 overall and 2-1 in the Baltimore Catholic League, while Loyola Blakefield fell to 8-4 and 1-4 in league play. The game didn’t count in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference standings.
Senior point guard Deon Perry scored 15 points for the Cougars, while sophomore guard Andrew Dixon added 13. Sophomore guard TJ Beckles finished with 12, including the team’s first eight points, and junior wing Drazen Sinigoj added 11 points while hitting three 3-pointers.
After the game, Mount Carmel coach Trevor Quinn rattled off Bamgboye’s final numbers while congratulating him for a job well done. A London native who transferred in this year, Bamgboye is just happy to being playing his part.
“With the blocks, I can make a good presence on the court on defense, so even if I’m not scoring, if I hustle on defense and get blocks, it leads us to transition buckets,” he said. “Even though we haven’t played a game in three weeks, we were still able to come through to get the win and we played well even under pressure when they were coming back.”
Beckles provided the visitors with a quick 8-2 advantage, hitting 3-pointers on consecutive possessions before Perry and junior forward Mitchell Kalu each added two baskets to help build a 22-9 advantage after one quarter.
The Dons, who got a game-high 26 points to go with dominant work on the boards from senior forward Gavin Walsh, were able to get within five points in both the second and third quarters. But the Cougars always responded.
Mount Carmel’s pressure defense helped extend the lead in the third quarter. After Walsh cut the deficit to 40-35 on a driving layup with 4:07 to play, the Cougars got a 3-pointer from Allen Mordi and a turnover that led to a layup by Dixon to build a double-digit lead. The Dons never got closer than eight points the rest of the game.
Perry, a four-year varsity player committed to Loyola Maryland, is thriving on the challenge of keeping things together for the Cougars during any tough stretches.
“Right now, I’m just trying to keep everybody calm so we don’t make multiple mistakes throughout the game,” he said. “Us staying together as a team when hard times come is going to be a big thing for us so we can close out games like today.”
The Cougars often use more than 10 players, depth that proves beneficial in games and practices. It’s a mix of returnees and newcomers, and the blend shows plenty of promise. Eight players scored Thursday.
“Everybody on the team has something they can bring to the court,” Bamgboye said. “So if one person is not playing their best, we have six, seven others who can do something. So it’s difficult for us to get into any long scoring droughts.”
The Dons put in a hard-working performance, beating the Cougars on the boards throughout the game with many of their points coming on second and third chances. But the poor start and the Cougars’ balance and timely baskets proved too much to overcome. Junior guard Ryder Drew scored 11 points and sophomore guard J’Lin Brown added 10 for Loyola.
“They were making shots and, especially early, we were struggling to put the ball in the hole a little bit. They’re really talented, they’re athletic and have some length which disrupted us a little bit,” Davalli said. “So we have some things to work and I think we can improve and we’ll see them again and hopefully we can play a little better than we did today.”
Mount Carmel takes on Bishop O’Connell at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the Route 1 Athletics Classic at Harford Community College and then returns to league play at home against Calvert Hall on Sunday in a makeup game set for 2:45 p.m. Loyola Blakefield has more than a week off before traveling to McDonogh on Jan. 14 with tip-off at 6:30 p.m.
MC -- Perry 15, Kalu 8, Dixon 13, WIlliams 3, Sinigoj 11, Mordi 5, Bamgboye 15, Beckles 12, Blackshear 2. Totals: 31 11-18 84
LB – Fischer 9, C. Hepting 6, Drew 11, Walsh 26, Brown 10, Laake 2, Moore 2. Totals: 23 15-24 66
Half: MC, 36-29