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.
Every time the visiting Patriots (23-6, 13-2 MIAA A Black, 9-4 BCL) made a push to pry away the lead, the Gaels responded and it was the 6 foot-10 Smith who made the biggest difference.
“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.
He made 13 of 14 from the line — including the four that pushed the lead to 77-71 with 18 seconds left.
The Gaels, who lost at John Carroll, 74-54, on Nov. 27, made 24 of 27 free throws.
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.
JC—Quickley 23, Mathis 8, Haughton 6, Gultekin 15, Byers 2, Ismail 3, Goyena 7, Craig 7. Totals: 26 12-23 71
MSJ — Myers 12, Bishop 12, J. Smith 32, McMillan 12, McDonald 2, Crawley 6, Sykes 2. Totals: 25 24-27 78
Half: MSJ, 42-33
No. 12 St. Vincent Pallotti 66, No. 1 St. Frances 56: Junior center Miles Mallory scored 22 points and senior guard Kyron Martin added 17 as Pallotti upset host St. Frances on Monday night.
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.