Unable to finish in its previous road match, Mount St. Joseph High boys’ basketball team got it done in the clutch Sunday as the top-ranked Gaels defeated No. 10 Mount Carmel, 62-51, in a MIAA A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League tilt in Baltimore County.
Junior forward/center Jalen Smith posted a game-high 18 points for the Gaels (17-1 overall), and University of Maryland commit Darryl Morsell added 15. Will Thomas led Mount Carmel (12-5) with 14 points, and Christian Evans finished with 11.
The Irvington school itched away from the hosts in the final minutes to remain the lone unbeaten (8-0) in the MIAA A. The win also helped St. Joe maintain second-place (4-1) in the Baltimore Catholic League.
The Gaels dropped their first game of the season, 63-62 to St. Maria Goretti last Wednesday in Hagerstown. Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said his squad missed seven of nine free throws in the final minute.
Though his squad answered every Mount Carmel charge, in front of a capacity crowd inside the Old Eastern Avenue gym Sunday, Clatchey wasn’t pleased.
“I think Mount Carmel is an athletic, talented team, but I just thought we were a little sluggish today,” Clatchey said. “No disrespect intended toward them; we just had some guys that didn’t show up today and we can’t afford to do that. We need guys clicking on all cylinders.”
The Gaels rebounded from the Goretti loss with a dominating 29-point win over surging St. Vincent Pallotti Friday evening at The Smith Center. But despite shutting down dynamic Mount Carmel guard Terry Nolan, Mount St. Joseph wasn’t able to put away the Cougars until the closing minutes.
Mount Carmel was within 52-48 after Nolan, an University of Tennessee-Chattanooga recruit, scored his first basket off a putback with 2 minutes, 54 seconds left in regulation. Morsell missed on the other end, but snatched the ball back and scored.
Smith, one of the country’s premier juniors, got an offensive rebound and scored, making it 56-49. The Cougars missed and Morsell broke away for a 360-degree dunk, putting Gaels up 58-49 with a little over a minute to play.
Leading 31-26 at halftime, Mount St. Joseph stretched it to 42-32 after Smith got a loose ball under the basket and finished with a dunk. The Cougars didn’t go away, thanks to Thomas.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore brought them to within 48-44 with 6:07 left in regulation on a free throw, getting to the foul line after four relentless attempts at the basket. Morsell impressively answered for St. Joe with a two-handed flush off a drive down the lane.
Mount Carmel second-year coach Hakim Hibbert said execution was the difference.
“I thought the effort was really good, just a couple plays down the stretch that they made and we didn’t,” said Hibbert, whose team fell to 4-4 and 2-2 in MIAA A and BCL play, respectively. “They’re a really good team.”
“We could’ve done better. We’re a better team than that,” said Smith. “We started off slow, but once we got going and got the team riled up, we got some pretty good momentum.”
Coming off the impressive showing Friday, Smith said the Gaels took Mount Carmel “for granted.” There’s no break this week for St. Joe with three MIAA A/BCL Top 20 matches, capped next Sunday with a BCL Tournament final rematch at No. 7 John Carroll.
“There’s no gimme, you got to come and play on the road,” said Clatchey. “I thought we played terrific Friday night, but it wasn’t there today. But it’s a win and you take them when you can get them.”
No. 1 Mount St. Joseph 62, No. 10 Mount Carmel 51
Mount St. Joseph – Bishop 13, Myers 9, Morsell 15, McDonald 1, Robinson 6, Smith 18. Totals 24 11-17 62.
Mount Carmel – Nolan 3, Evans 11, Thomas 14, Jones 9, Watson 4, Miller 2, Bush-Williams 6. Totals 18 12-19 51.
Mount St. Joseph 17 14 15 16 – 62
Mount Carmel 13 13 13 12 – 51