Above: Brendan Adams scored 13 points, including the 1,500th of his career, while running the Cardinal offense

Adams lead the Cardinals back to the post-season; Loyola eliminated

by Nelson Coffin

After blowing a 12-point lead in the first quarter and falling behind by five points to No, 14 Loyola Blakefield in the third period, Calvert Hall College’s unranked basketball team went to its bread and butter — senior guard Brendan Adams — to pull out a 59-55 victory in a key Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League battle Friday night.

Besides bragging rights, which always factor in when the cross-Towson arch-rivals compete, the fact that an MIAA A playoff berth was also at stake had the large and loud crowd in the Cardinals’ home gym at a fever pitch for much of the back-and-forth contest.

That’s another reason why Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld, whose team won its fourth straight conference contest, wanted a steady hand on the helm when his team was struggling at the offensive end.

“We didn’t want to over-complicate things,” Bauersfield said. “We went through a stretch when we couldn’t put the ball in the basket. So we put the ball into Brendan’s hands.”

The University of Rhode Island commit, who eclipsed 1,500 career points on Senior Night, was the perfect answer when the Cardinals (11-16, 10-8 MIAA, 5-9 BCL) needed him most, scoring five points in a row on a free throw, a pretty scoop and put-back to deadlock the game at 39-all with three minutes remaining in the third period.

After a free throw by junior Tryllian Young put the Dons (14-14, 8-10 MIAA A, 4-10 BCL) back on top with a free throw, Calvert Hall junior Kevin Collier’s layup wrestled the lead back for his team until senior J.J. Halaby, who led all scorers with 19 points, nailed a three-pointer to give Loyola a 43-41 advantage.

Adams came back to the rescue at that point, nailing two foul shots and a jumper to gave the Cardinals a 45-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Loyola would tie the game on a monster slam by 6-foot-5 senior Chid Nnake off an inbound play with five minutes, 31 seconds left in regulation, but they would never enjoy another lead the rest of the way.

To be sure, it took more than Adams to subdue the Dons in the late going because they fought to the bitter end by putting the Cardinals on the line for some pivotal free throws.

Although Adams missed a pair with six seconds to go, he converted twice with 20 seconds to go and Calvert Hall junior guard Logan Curtis capped off his big night by swishing twice from the stripe eight seconds later.

However, Curtis’ coast-to-coast drive-and-finish with 31 seconds remaining was another critical moment, in that it came right after freshman guard Darrius Tilghman’s clutch jumper gave the Cardinals a 53-49 cushion with one minute, 20 seconds left.

“We knew that Adams is the center point of their offense,” Loyola coach Josh Davalli said. “So I thought we did a pretty good job on him defensively. But to his credit, he let those other guys, like Curtis and Tilghman, help out. They hurt us.”

Curtis finished with a game-high 17 points while Adams and Tilghman added 13 points each.

Earning a spot in the playoffs for Calvert Hall must seem like a dream come true for a team that started the season without six players it was counting on this season, such as Josh Cornish and Xavier Gravette, who transferred to Dulaney and Perry Hall, respectively.

“We got off to a rough start,” Adams said. “But we knew we had enough time to make a push at the end. In the beginning of the season we played MSJ (Mount St. Joseph), SFA (St. Frances Academy), John Carroll and (St. Maria) Goretti early, but we knew later in the season we would play teams we could beat easily — which we haven’t really done, but we started to pick our game up.”

For the Dons, there’s no doubt that the loss stings.

According to Davalli, there have been more than a few close games that have not gone Loyola’s way.

“We’ve played 13 games decided by five points or less this season,” he said. “But I think we’ve exceeded expectations this season by having a chance to make the MIAA playoffs in our last game. I couldn’t be prouder of my kids.”

LOY 14 16 13 12 — 55
CH 22 10 13 14 — 59
LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD: J.J. Halaby 19, Connor Hepting 6, Cameron Shaw 6, Brendan Fox 6, Tryllian Young 9, Chid Nnake 9. TOTALS: 19 11-16 55.
CALVERT HALL: Logan Curtis 17, Darius Tilghman 13, Brendan Adams 13, Kevin Collier 2, Myles Morris 3, Montez McNeil 7, Amir Jenkins 4. TOTALS: 20 10-19 59.