It was senior night at Mount Saint Joseph on Monday and four-year starter Jalen Smith was his usual self and a little more against John Carroll.
The McDonald’s All American and last year’s All-Metro co-Player of the Year asserted himself at the defensive end with early blocked shots. He scored points inside and outside, and dominated the boards.
Smith’s last bit of work came from the free-throw line, where he made all four tries in the final 35 seconds to keep the No. 3 Gaels ahead of No. 2 John Carroll on their way to a 78-71 win.
Smith finished with 32 points, 23 rebounds and blocked seven shots as Mount Saint Joseph improved to 26-3 overall 16-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference’s Red Division and 10-2 in the Baltimore Catholic League.
“We just had to keep up the intensity and played harder than them and made sure to keep them off the boards because that’s how they beat us last time,” Smith said, “It was huge. It wasn’t a regular game when you play a top tier team on senior night — we fought hard and played as a team.”
The Gaels got 12 points each from Tyree Myers, James Bishop and Kendall McMillan, and timely contributions came from Ausar Crawley and Will Sykes in the second quarter to help give them a 42-33 halftime lead that would be challenged but never relinquished.
The Patriots, behind a 23-point performance from senior star Immanuel Quickley, a fellow McDonald’s All American with Smith, got within 73-71 with 43 seconds to play before Smith closed out the win with rebounds and work at the foul line.
The number that spoke volumes to John Carroll coach John Zito was the rebound total — 23 — from Smith.
“We didn’t rebound the basketball. We let one guy dominate the glass,” he said. “We can’t get that game back — it’s over now. We need to learn from this experience — how one facet of the game can impact your season.”
Junior forward Yavuz Gultekin added 15 points for the Patriots.
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Sophomore forward Justin Lewis scored 36 points to lead the way for Poly, which will face Dunbar again on Feb. 17 in the Baltimore City Division I title game at Morgan State. At halftime, there was an altercation involving an adult Dunbar supporter trying to intimidate a Poly player.
Pallotti improved to 22-9 overall and 11-4 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference’s Red Division, while host St. Frances (29-4) lost its second straight to go to 13-2 in the MIAA A Red.