As the only starter returning from last year’s team, Mount Saint Joseph guard James Bishop had a big challenge in front of him coming into his senior year.
After earning All-Metro second-team honors as a junior primarily for his ability to score, Bishop was asked to do even more to help maintain the team’s high success.
He has proved up to the task.
Despite more attention from opposing defenses, he is averaging 23 points a game this season, while stepping up as a team leader in leading the No. 4 Gaels to a 24-6 mark through regular season play.
Bishop’s work was recognized on Monday afternoon when he was named the Baltimore Catholic League's Jerry Savage Player of the Year at the annual awards luncheon at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Pikesville. It’s the third straight year a Mount Saint Joseph player had claimed the award with Maryland standout freshman Jalen Smith winning the previous two seasons.
“I think I’ve done a better job of getting my teammates involved, working on my ball handling, shooting, of course, and just being more of a leader for our team,” said Bishop, a Louisiana State University commit.
“This is great. It’s just a testament to all the hard work you put in the offseason to prepare for the season, so this is big.”
Joining Bishop on the All-BCL first team was St. Frances’ Adrian Baldwin and Jamal West, St. Maria Goretti’s R.J. Blakney and Abdou Tsimbila, and Loyola Blakefield’s Mitchell Fischer. The selections were based on voting by league coaches and officials, and select media members.
Fischer, a junior forward, was named the Cokey Robertson Most Improved Player of the Year. St. Frances senior guard Rajeir Jones was recognized as the Mark Amatucci Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. And Loyola Blakefield’s Josh Davalli, who guided the Dons to a 19-11 regular season and the fourth seed in the upcoming BCL tournament, was named the O. Ray Mullis Coach of the Year. In addition to Fisher, the Dons had three other players make the BCL’s second team or honorable mention.
“It’s very humbling to get the award. But, to me, it’s a team thing because I’m not recognized with this if our guys didn’t play the way they’ve played and do the things they did through the year. We have a great group of kids that have really bought into what us as coaches are trying to do and we’ve had some success with it this season, which is fantastic,” Davalli said.
Each team selected one of its players as recipient of the Dave Kropfelder "Never, Never Quit" Award: Burke Webb, Archbishop Spalding; Brooks Reahl, Calvert Hall; James Ziegler, John Carroll; Graham Slifer, Loyola Blakefield; Hunter Adams, Mount Carmel; Wesley Chairs, Mount Saint Joseph; Kyrie Staten, St. Frances; and Alexie Wood, St. Maria Goretti.
The BCL Tournament opens with quarterfinal round play on Feb. 27. All games are set for 7 p.m. and played at the higher seeds. The remainder of the tournament will take place at Loyola Maryland with the semifinals set for Friday, March 1 — at 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. — and the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 3.
First up for many of the teams is the MIAA A Conference playoffs, which start Tuesday with quarterfinal-round action. Boys’ Latin captured the Black Division while Mount Saint Joseph won the Red Division to earn the top seeds.
BCL Second Team
Ausar Crawley, Mount Saint Joseph
Jordan Toles, St. Frances
Logan Curtis, Calvert Hall
Amir Hall, Archbishop Spalding
Przemek Golek, St. Maria Goretti
Tryllian Young, Loyola Blakefield
Honorable Mention: Rajeir Jones, St. Frances; Tyson Commander, John Carroll; Deon Perry, Mount Carmel; Brendan Fox, Loyola Blakefield; Kevin Collier, Calvert Hall; Conner Hepting, Loyola Blakefield