Quickley’s hoop at the buzzer sends No. 3 Patriots into the MIAA A basketball championship game

Immanuel Quickley (left) and his head coach John Zito (right) are all smiles following Quickley’s game-wining shot, in overtime, that defeated Mount St. Joseph and sent the Patriots to Sunday’s MIAA A Conference championship.

by Gary Adornato

In a game that featured so many interesting twists with pivotal contributions up and down each lineup, John Carroll School’s Immanuel Quickley scored four points in overtime, including a game-winning three-foot bank shot, as time expired, to lift the third-ranked Patriots to a thrilling 79-78 victory over No. 2 Mount St. Joseph, in an MIAA A Conference basketball semifinal in Bel Air Thursday evening.

Quickley, a McDonald’s All-American, will now lead his squad (25-7 overall) into Sunday’s A Conference title game, at Harford Community College’s APG Federal Credit Union Arena, against fifth-ranked Boys’ Latin School, which went to east Baltimore and stunned No. 1 St. Frances Academy, 68-65, in Thursday’s other MIAA A semifinal.

Although Quickley’s final shot is the one that finally knocked out St. Joe, the Gaels (28-5) could have gone down for the count much earlier when their own McDonald’s All-American, Jalen Smith, absorbed an elbow to the jaw and left the game with six minutes, 59 seconds to play in the third quarter.

After remaining prone on the court for several minutes, a clearly groggy Smith left the floor under his own power, but never returned as he was being evaluated for a concussion. At the time, St. Joe led 38-37 and the Gaels did not back down one inch the rest of the way.

Senior Tim McDonald stepped up in Smith’s absence, scoring eight points in the paint in the third, after Smith’s departure. The third ended with the teams deadlocked, 54-54.

John Carroll started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, initiated by Montez Mathis’ break-away dunk, and the Patriots battled their way to 72-63 advantage, their biggest of the night, with just over two minutes to play.

St. Joe junior guard James Bishop assumed the leadership reigns following Smith’s departure and scored a game-high 30 points. He was especially brilliant in the final 90 seconds of the fourth quarter when he refused to let his team fade-away. In that stretch, Bishop orchestrated a 9-0 run for the Gaels, with a traditional 3-point play and two long-range threes to even the game at 72-72. John Carroll did have one final possession, but an 18-foot jumper by Quickley came up short.

At the start of overtime, baskets by Bishop and Tyree Myers, countered only by a single free throw from John Carroll junior Yavuz Gultekin, forged a 76-73 lead for the Gaels. Quickley sliced that margin to one with a pair of free throws, with 1:03 left, and Mathis put John Carroll on top with slashing score with just 26 seconds to play.

As the clock wound under 10 seconds, Myers drove to the hoop and scooped in a layup, as the Gaels went up by one. This set the stage for Quickley’s winner, as he slid down the left-side of the lane and stepped back to arch a contested 3-footer onto the glass and into goal.

Clearly exhilarated as he celebrated with his teammates, coaches and fans, Quickley was almost at a loss for words as he tried to compose himself for a few post-game comments.

“I’m just overwhelmed,” said Quickley. “That game was crazy. I had missed the previous game-winner but I tried not to let it get me down and moved on to the next play.”

Following Myers’ score for St. Joe, John Carroll did not stop the clock and head coach John Zitto explained why.

“In those situations, we like to go, just go,” said Zitto. “We have one of the best point guards in the country; the best point guard in the country in my opinion, so let him be that. Let him be that.”

Quickley finished with 22 points and Mathis had 21 to lead the Patriots. JC also got 14 clutch points from Brandon Craig and 11 from Gultekin. Despite his limited action, Smith had 16 for the Gaels and McDonald finished with 12.

The game did not wait to the later stages to get intense. Down 6-2 early in the opening frame, St. Joe went on an 11-0 run to take a 13-6 advantage. Smith provided the biggest highlight of the run, as he swatted away a Quickley shot on the defensive end before sprinting up court to slam back an offensive miss. Following a time out, however, John Carroll scored seven straight, including four by Quickley, to tie the game at 13.

St. Joe was able to lead 18-15 at end of one, but the game swung back and forth in the second quarter, which ended in a 35-35 tie. Perhaps the most exhilarating play of the night was a monster left-handed jam, off an inbounds play, by Gultekin, who was fouled on the play. He completed the 3-point play and JC had its biggest lead, up to that point, at 31-26.

The Gaels countered with a 9-2 surge to go back in front 35-33, before a basket by Craig tied the game once again, 35-35, at the end of three quarters.

“I don’t really count that as a loss,” said St. Joe coach Pat Clatchey, whose squad will now await the start of next week’s Baltimore Catholic League Tournament. “That was a win for us. You take one of the best players in the country off the floor, and those other guys stepped up and battled, every single possession, tooth and nail.”

Zitto added, “There was a lot of heart on the floor from both teams, a ton of heart.”

MSJ 18 17 19 18 – 6 — 78
JC 15 20 19 18 – 7 — 79
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH: Myers 7, Bishop 30, J. Smith 16, McDonald 12, McMillan 4, Crawley 5, Sykes 4. TOTALS: 31 11-12 78.
JOHN CARROLL: Quickley 22, Mathis 21, Haughton 6, Gultekin 11, Ismail 5, Craig 14. TOTALS: 28 16-21 79.