The No. 6 Boys’ Latin basketball team has no secrets.
The Lakers will be winning or losing with 3-pointers this season and, so far, it’s been so good.
In Friday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference showdown at No. 12 McDonogh, the Lakers put constant pressure on the Eagles with every made 3. They ended up with 13 of them – Cameron Spencer finishing with a game-high 25 points and Sam Grace adding 15 – to pull away for a 69-53 win over the Eagles.
Boys’ Latin improves to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in the League’s Black Division, while McDonogh (4-1) loses for the first time and go to 1-1 in league play.
The Lakers got all their points on 3 pointers in the first quarter – hitting five – to set the tone. Leading 35-31 at the half, a more concerted effort on the defensive boards – to go with more 3 pointers – helped them pull away. Spencer and Grace made 10 of the team’s 13 baskets from beyond the arc.
“It’s been really important for us,” Spencer said. “I don’t want to say we rely on our 3 point shooting, but it’s definitely a strength of ours and we try to use it to our advantage. Luckily, Sam and I had a pretty good night shooting.”
Despite the good aim from long distance in the early going, the Eagles kept close with dominating inside play. The home team would take a 23-22 lead when Drew Green (team-high 15 points) scored on a drive to the basket with 4:22 to play in the first half.
But the Lakers always had an answer and then took over at both ends in the second half.
While keeping the Eagles to one shot, they went on a got back-to-back 3s from Cameron Watts (12 points) and Kendall Walker to take a 45-34 lead midway through the third quarter. They would maintain a double-digit lead throughout the fourth quarter in closing out a comfortable win.
“We didn’t come out very well in the first half at the defensive end and we went into the locker room and coach [Cliff] Rees talked some sense into us and we came out and worked our butts off in the second half,” Grace said.
After a season-opening loss to St. Maria Goretti, the Lakers have hit their stride with seven straight win. Grace said the four-point loss to the Gaels was an early lesson.
“We knew that we could way better and if we played to our potential that we would have a good start to the year and obviously our end goal is winning the championship,” he said.
With one senior, one junior, two sophomores and a freshman in the starting five, the Eagles are expecting some bumps on the road. But the Eagles, who got 12 points from Curtis Jacobs and 10 from Dave Brown, aren’t planning to let the loss hold them back.
“Our motto is grow together,” said McDonogh coach T.J. Jordan. “So this is obviously one of those times where we were the younger team, they had more veteran leadership. But we’re going to learn from this, our young guys are going to learn form this, and we’re going to improve for the next game.”
6 Boys Latin 69, 12 McDonogh 53
BL – Spencer 25, Grace 15, Watts 12, Walker 3, Nichols 10, Spells 4. Totals: 23 8-12 69
M – Cooper 6, Billups 7, Brown 10, Jacobs 12, Green 15, Howard 1, Sutton-Dennis 2. Totals: 20 9-11 53
Half: BL, 35-31