Spencer scorches No. 1 Mount St. Joseph for 29 points as sixth-ranked Lakers pull upset; Grace drops five 3-pointers (VIDEO HERE!)

Boys’ Latin’s Cam Spencer (right) gets a shot off against the defense of Mount St. Joseph’s James Bishop during the second half of Wednesday’s MIAA A Conference basketball battle. Spencer finished with 29 points as the No. 6 Lakers remained undefeated in league play with a 69-61 victory in southwest Baltimore.

by Joe DiBlasi

Those who believed Boys’ Latin School’s run to last winter’s MIAA A Conference basketball championship game was a fluke, might have to begin taking the Lakers a little more seriously.

Wednesday, the sixth-ranked Lakers handed No. 1 Mount St. Joseph its first loss in MIAA A play with an impressive 69-61 victory inside the Smith Center in Irvington. BL (19-3 overall) did it behind the blistering shooting of Cameron Spencer and Sam Grace, as well as big time contributions from Cameron Watts and Jake Nichols.

Spencer, who will play for Loyola University next season, led all scorers with 29 points and scored all 13 of his team’s points in the second quarter as Boys’ Latin  took the lead for good. There was a different hero for each quarter of the contest for the Lakers.

Watts scored eight points in the opening quarter and Grace drained five three-pointers, all in the third quarter. Nichols, who had a double-double with 14 points and 19 rebounds in the contest, scored nine points in the decisive final quarter.

In total, the Lakers hit 11 three-pointers.

Mount St. Joe (14-4) battled back in the fourth quarter, and got within four points, at 62-58, with 59 seconds to go in regulation, but BL put the contest away at the free throw line. The Lakers converted 7-of-8 free throws in the final 49 seconds to seal the win. Spencer was 8-for-8 from the line on the night and Nichols was 6-of-8, hitting 5-of-6 in the final 37 seconds of the game.

Laker coach Cliff Rees, who has his team well in front of the pack in the Black Division of the A Conference with a 6-0 mark, lauded the play of Nichols.

“Jake was such a huge different tonight,” said Rees. “He made plays on both ends of the floor, made big buckets, and was a rebounding machine. We needed that to beat a team of Mount Saint Joe’s caliber with Coach Clatchey.

“The effort and the basketball intelligence is what I was happy with tonight.”

Spencer praised the defensive play of Watts on St. Joe’s high scoring James Bishop, and he gave Grace credit for getting the team going with his hot shooting in the third quarter.

“We played well tonight,” said Spencer. “We executed our game plan. Jake (Nichols) did real well on the boards. He knocked down his free throws and he hit his mid-range jumpers.”

Nichols deflected the credit.

“We played amazing tonight, we had a ton of energy from the start,” said Nichols. “Cameron Spencer was great, Cameron Watts played an amazing game and played amazing defense and Sam (Grace) gave us energy. It was a great team effort.”

Hot shots: Cam Spencer (left) and Sam Grace, who drained five 3-pointers in the third quarter, combined for 44 points Wednesday for Boys’ Latin. The Lakers have an area-best 19 victories.

Grace continued with the team concept.

“We always find the open guy,” he said. “We are not a selfish team. I credit them for finding me [open].”

Gaels coach Pat Clatchey, whose team is now 7-1 in the league and still in first place in the Red Division, gave credit where credit was do.

“They set the tone of the game in the first half,” said Clatchey. “The kid Spencer played terrific. I think they fed off of his energy, his intensity, and his ability. Sam Grace didn’t hit a three in the first half, and then he gets loose for five of them. They are a good team, they were confident and they deserved to win.”

Bishop lead the Mount with 18 points and Tyler Brelsford added 14.

BL 17 13 23 16 — 69
MSJ 16 10 16 19 — 61
BL: C. Spencer 29, Grace 15, Nichols 14, Watts 11.
MSJ: Crawley 12, Brelsford 14, Bishop 18, Johnson 8, Hamlin 2, Chairs 5, Brown 2.