During a pause in the awards ceremony following the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament final Sunday, Mount St. Joseph basketball coach Pat Clatchey walked over to Daryl Morsell, sitting in the first chair on the Gaels’ bench. He opened air his arms, wanting to give his senior star a hug

Morsell broke a sheepish smile as he turned away from the longtime coach. Morsell turned back around and pair shared a quick embrace.

A year ago, the Gaels’ bench was a picture of despair after losing the BCL XLV crown in heartbreaking fashion. It was a completely different vibe for No. 3 Mount St. Joseph, which claimed the Brother D. John Trophy with a 54-44 victory over fifth-ranked Mount Carmel at Goucher College.

Morsell had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Gaels (35-3 overall) and sophomore guard James Bishop had 14. William Miller finished with 11 points for Mount Carmel (27-10), in its first BCL tourney final.

In its record 15th title-game appearance, Mount St. Joseph used its experience along with a heightened work rate in the second half to win its record-tying seventh tournament championship. The Gaels became the first team since Calvert Hall College to claim four BCL titles in six years.

Redemption is complete for the Irvington school which lost in the MIAA A Conference and BCL tourney finals. It’s the fourth tournament sweep for the Gaels, and the 10th overall by a team in the MIAA A/BCL era.

“We had a sour taste in our mouths,” said Gaels guard/forward Jaden Robinson. “We had some guys move up to varsity so we wanted take the experience of those losses and instill in the guys that we were on a mission.”

The BCL XLV setback was particularly painful as John Carroll School’s Immanuel Quickley hit a three-pointer over Pierre Johnson with 1.7 seconds remaining for a 53-52 Patriot victory. Johnson (now at Seward Junior College in Kansas) was the BCL Defensive Player of the Year.

Early in the second half Sunday, the Gaels had Jalen Smith, the recently crowned Defensive and overall Player of the Year in the BCL, on the bench with three fouls in a close match. Mount St. Joseph suffocated a weary Mount Carmel like a boa constrictor, claiming a 15-point advantage entering the final frame.

“We told everybody we had to rebound as a team because Jalen was our main rebounder,” said Morsell. “We toughened up and limited their second chance opportunities.”

The Gaels went on a 15-1 run started with a Smith dunk. Mount St. Joseph drew an offensive charge on Cougars’ star guard Terry Nolan, and junior guard Kendall McMillan dropped a three-pointer, giving the Gaels a 37-26 advantage.

Morsell closed it out with a pair of tough offensive rebounds and putbacks in the paint. The 6-foot-5 guard who’s committed to the University of Maryland was honored with the John M. Pleyvak Trophy as the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.

“I just decided I had to be more aggressive,” whose “and-one” late in the first half gave Mount St. Joseph a 22-21 halftime lead after trailing by as many as six points. “They were pressing and I was catching the ball in the middle and was able to drive and make plays.

The Cougars, who lost to Mount St. Joseph in the MIAA A tourney final the weekend before at Harford Community College, got to within 43-35 midway in the fourth Sunday. But the Old Eastern Avenue school, which played in Saturday evening’s second BCL semifinal against St. Maria Goretti, appeared to hit the wall in the second half.

Cougars coach Hakim Hibbert said Morsell helped build that wall.

“Darryl did a real good job stepping up and being that senior leader,” said Hibbert. “I thought we didn’t get our hands on the ball in some key possessions. Our guys probably got tired, it’s a different environment playing championship day, but in the end, guys still have to step up.”

Nolan, who will play for Tennessee-Chattanooga, joined Morsell on the all-BCL tournament team. Bishop, St. Frances Academy’s Eral Penn and Elijah Clarance from Goretti rounded out the honorees.

Clatchey commended the defensive play of McMillan, junior Kendall Myers and Robinson, the league’s most improved player. The Gaels didn’t have key senior and Wagner commit Nigel Jackson Sunday because of injury.

Mount St. Joseph didn’t lack for motivation. 

“I think the thing we learned is every possession is important because it came down to a one-possession game, we actually played pretty defense, but [Quickley] hit a great shot,” said Clatchey. “I think it stuck in our craw and left a bad taste in our mouth.”

It was a much sweeter feeling Sunday for the Gaels, especially since it came the floor they claimed their first BCL title in 2003. Mount St. Joseph has accounted for half of the BCL Tournament crowns since.

“That’s mainly the reason me and Jaden [Robinson] came here because of the legacy Coach Clatchey have built,” said Morsell, who with Robinson and Jackson are the only seniors. “They’re winners and it’s great feeling to be a part of.”

BCL XLVI Championship

at Goucher College

No. 3 Mount St. Joseph 54, No. 5 Mount Carmel 44  

Mount Carmel – Jones 10, Nolan 6, Miller 11, Watson 2, Thomas 4, Felton 5, Evans 6. Totals 15 8-12 44.

Mount St. Joseph – Bishop 14, Morsell 14, Smith 10, Robinson 9, McMillan 5, Myers 2. Totals 21 10-11 54.

Mount Carmel 12 9 5 18 – 44

Mount St. Joseph 6 16 19 13 – 54