No. 6 Boys’ Latin takes down McDonogh for 7th straight win; Spencer and Grace combine for 40 (VIDEO HERE!)

Boys’ Latin’s Cameron Spencer (left) drives to the basket as McDonogh’s Drew Green defends during the first half of Friday’s MIAA A Conference basketball contest. Spencer finished with a game-high 25 points as the No. 6 Lakers handed 14th-ranked McDonogh its first loss with a 69-53 decision in Owings Mills.

by Derek Toney

After a surprising run to the MIAA A Conference basketball final last season, Boys’ Latin School isn’t sneaking up on the opposition this season. The Lakers are looking comfortable as a front runner in the early going.

No. 6 Boys’ Latin defeated 14th-ranked McDonogh School, 69-53, in a MIAA A Black Division contest at the Rollins-Luetkemeyer Center in Owings Mills Friday evening. Loyola University-bound guard Cameron Spencer had 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Boys’ Latin (7-1 overall) and Sam Grace added 15.

The Lake Avenue school pulled away from the Eagles in the second half to move to 2-0 in division play. The Lakers have ran off seven straight victories after a season-opening loss to Hagerstown’s St. Maria Goretti, a Baltimore Catholic League title contender.

Last season, Boys’ Latin lost to John Carroll School in an epic overtime match in the MIAA A final, following an upset victory at top-seed and then-No. 1 St. Frances Academy in the semifinals.

“Everybody thought we were an underdog, but honestly, I didn’t think we were,” said Spencer. “I think we surprised some teams last year, but we brought back some guys who know how to get it done.”

Spencer and Grace combined for 10 of BL’s 13 3-pointers Friday, set up by quick ball movement. The Lakers’ deft passing also resulted in easy cuts to the basket.

“We have a lot of guys who can knock down the deep shot, but none of them are selfish,” said BL coach Cliff Rees. “They’re willing to make the extra pass to find the open man.”

Rees, last year’s VSN’s co-Coach of the Year, was most impressed with the Lakers’ defense Friday, especially in the third quarter. Boys’ Latin outscored McDonogh, 17-7, turning a 35-31 advantage into 52-38.

“We knew we needed to do well on the defensive end,” said Grace. “We didn’t do very well in the first half, so when we went into the locker room Coach Rees talked how we needed to be better [on the defensive end].”

Boys’ Latin raced out to a 15-8 lead in the first quarter after a Spencer trifecta. McDonogh rallied for a 23-22 advantage midway in the second, thanks to a basket from Drew Green.

The Lakers regained the lead on a basket from Jake Nichols, and led, 35-31 at halftime. They put together an 8-1 run, featuring a Spencer layup off a pass from Nichols and 3-pointers from Kendall Walker and Cameron Watts.

Boys’ Latin closed the quarter with another Watts’ dagger followed with back-to-back Damon Spells’ scores off Spencer feeds. The Lakers led by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Green, a senior guard, led McDonogh (4-1, 1-1 MIAA A Black) with 15 points with junior Curtis Jacobs adding 12. The Eagles started four underclassmen Friday including two sophomores and a freshmen.

“BL is a senior laden team and they shoot the ball very well ,” said McDonogh coach TJ Jordan. “Our motto this year is grow together. We’re going to learn from this.”

Rees, who graduated the program’s all-time leading scorer in Jaylin Andrews (Loyola), have gotten solid play from new starters Nichols (10 points, 5 rebounds) and Walker. Walker (four assists) replacing Watts at point guard has given BL another perimeter threat.

Sam Grace (left) and Cameron Spencer were hot from the 3-point circle for Boys’ Latin Friday. Each had five as the Lakers connected 13 times.

“We got to keep looking for ways to be creative. We got to keep sharing the basketball,” said Rees. “As long as we’re playing unselfish, it’s tough to stop the four guys on the perimeter. We don’t always have everybody going, but if we have two, we’re in pretty good shape.”

No. 6 Boys’ Latin School 69, No. 14 McDonogh School 53

Boys’ Latin Spencer 25, Grace 15, Watts 12, Walker 3, Nichols 10, Spells 4. Totals 23 8-12 69

McDonogh – Green 15, Cooper 6, Billups 7, Brown 10, Jacobs 12, Howard 1, Sutton-Dennis 2. Totals 20 9-11 53.

Boys’ Latin 15 20 17 17 – 69

McDonogh 10 21 7 15 – 53