To beat host Mount Carmel in the quarterfinals of the 51st Baltimore Catholic League tournament, the Archbishop Spalding boys basketball team needed one more big play.
The Cavaliers had just the right player for the job.
Senior forward Cam Whitmore — who was named the BCL Player of the Year for a second straight season Monday — put back a miss with 2.6 seconds left to push No. 5 Spalding past No. 2 Mount Carmel, 66-64, on Wednesday night.
Whitmore finished with 20 points and fellow senior Jordan Pennick added 18 to lead the Cavaliers (24-10), who will face No. 3 St. Frances — a 75-45 winner over Calvert Hall — in Friday’s semifinals at Loyola Maryland’s Reitz Arena. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. At 8:30, No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph will take on defending champion John Carroll.
For the Cavaliers, who are still looking for their first BCL championship, getting to the semifinals meant getting past the Cougars and sensational senior point guard Deon Perry, who tied the game at 64 with a three-point play in the closing minute to finish with a game-high 29 points.
On the Cavaliers’ final possession, Pennick’s jumper hit the back of the rim and bounced out to Whitmore, who lofted the follow-up attempt just over the extended arms of Mount Carmel forward Luke Bamgboye.
“Jordan shot it and I thought it was going in, but it came right to me and I had to put it up, so it was a lucky shot and it went in and I was happy it went in,” said Whitmore, a Villanova commit who is still nursing a sore ankle. “We knew what they were about, so we came in here, knew the atmosphere was going to be big so we fed off that, played hard, played tough on defense.”
The Cougars (25-8) were coming off a tough 63-60 loss to Mount Saint Joseph in Sunday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game and battled through another tightly contested game.
Neither team was able to gain much separation, with the score tied at the half, after three quarters and three times in the fourth quarter. When senior CJ Scott put back a missed free throw, the Cavaliers had a 62-57 lead with 2:09 to play. But the Cougars rallied behind Perry.
The senior ended the run with a basket and converted the three-point play a minute later to tie the game at 64 with 58 seconds left. After both teams couldn’t convert on their possessions, Whitmore pounced on a rebound and was quick to get the winning basket up. The Cougars had one last chance, but a halfcourt heave by Bamgboye was off the mark.
Pennick is banking on this playoff run finally ending with a championship for a senior-laden team that has developed a tight bond and showed promised over the years, but has yet to deliver.
“I think for the seniors … we understand the pressure that comes with it and we folded a couple years,” he said. “We’re tired of hearing ‘Spalding can’t do it, Spalding can’t do it.’ We’re about to show people we can.”
For Mount Carmel, which finishes with a 25-8 mark, the loss ends Perry’s stellar four-year career. Time and again this season, the Loyola Maryland commit was the best player on the court. Coach Trevor Quinn, who came to Mount Carmel in Perry’s freshman year, was appreciative of the commitment he got from his special senior.
“His loyalty to Mount Carmel and the effort and all that comes with it — how he represents our community — you really can’t ask for a better kid,” he said. “He’s going to have a great college career.”
MC: Perry 29, Kalu 7, Dixon 9, Mordi 8, Bamgboye 6, Parsons 2, Beckles 3 Totals: 26 8-10 64
AS – Whitmore 20, Pennick 18, Peterson 12, Scott 10, Washington 6. Totals: 26 7-16 66
More BCL quarterfinals
No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph 68, No. 8 Loyola Blakefield 66, OT: Fresh off Sunday’s MIAA A championship win over Mount Carmel, the Gaels needed overtime to get past the visiting Dons. Junior forward Amani Hansberry led MSJ with 24 points, while Bryson Tucker finished with 15 and Ace Valentine added 13. The Dons, who got 16 points from senior Gavin Walsh, closed their season with a 16-12 mark.
No. 3 St. Frances 75, Calvert Hall 45: Stunned by Gilman in the opening round of the MIAA A playoffs last week, the Panthers pulled away with a dominant second quarter in getting past the Cardinals. Five St. Frances players reached double figures, led by Jahnathan Lamothe’s 15 points.
No. 6 John Carroll 81, St. Maria Goretti 69: Jeannot Basima scored a game-high 31 points, Tyson Commander finished with 22 and TJ Vaughn added 15 as the Patriots (20-10) pulled away with a 28-point fourth quarter to advance to the semifinals.