No. 13 Dons get a critical MIAA A victory
by Joe DiBlasi
Despite a win over Mount Carmel in its last outing, No. 13 Loyola came into Tuesday’s MIAA A Conference basketball game at No. 10 Boys’ Latin in a tailspin that was threatening the Dons’ post-season prospects.
With losses in four of its last six games, Loyola needed a win and got exactly that with an impressive 65-54 victory over the Lakers in Roland Park on Tuesday night.
The Lakers were looking to bounce back from tough 66-64 loss to Gilman on Friday night and, early on, it looked as if they could shoot there way back into the win column. BL hit five three-pointers in the first quarter, including a buzzer-beating 46-footer by Lorenzo Donadio, to grab 25-20 at the first quarter break.
But on this night, Coach Josh Davalli’s Dons would have none of it. They dug in on defense, holding the Lakers to just five points, on two buckets from the field, in the second quarter, while scoring 16 of their own to take a 36-30 halftime lead.
The Lakers made a game of it in the third quarter when they got to within one point of a lead, at 42-41, with 3:54 remaining in the quarter.
The Dons, however, increased their slim lead when Mitch Fischer, Jordan Moore and Cam Smith all scored before the third quarter ended, to give their team a 51-43 lead going into the fourth stanza. They would not relinquish that advantage.
The high-scoring trio of Fischer, Moore and Smith combined for 50 points on the night for the Dons, strengthening their bid to claim a playoff spot in the Red division of the conference.
Davalli said the formula was basic basketball.
“It was basic basketball philosophy; get stops, run out in transition, and score,” said Davalli. “In the first quarter, they were on fire and they have a bunch of guys who can shoot. We knew that, and we knew we would have to contest their jumpers, because they came out ready to play.
“I’m proud of our defense and now, 20 games into the season, we’re starting to find our identity. I also liked the way we played on offense. We got the ball where we wanted to get the ball and we played aggressively.”
Laker coach Cliff Rees gave the Dons their due.
“They are a talented team and they’re well-coached and they executed extremely well tonight,” said Rees. “Our defense just didn’t have an answer.
“It was especially hard to stop Fischer. He’s versatile. He can beat you off the dribble, he can beat you inside, and he can beat you deep.”
The 6-foot-8 Fischer lead all scorers with 23 points, 13 of witch came in the first quarter to help keep Loyola in the game during Boys Latins’ white-hot start.
Moore finished with 17 points for the Dons and Smith added 10.
Donadio lead the Lakers with 16 numbers, Kendall Walker had 11 and Riar Schell threw in 10.
Rees said that his team needs to knock down threes consistently, for all 32 minutes, to win in the A conference.
“We had some decent looks when we fell behind in the second quarter, but our shots were just not falling.”
Loyola (14-8 overall, 7-5 MIAA A) stays in the hunt in the Red Division for a playoff spot. The Dons, John Carroll (7-4) and Archbishop Spalding (8-6) will battle it out down the stretch for the final two playoff spots out of the Red Division, joining St. Francis (11-1) and Mount Saint Joseph (12-2), as well as four teams from the Black Division, in the postseason tournament.
Despite the loss, the Lakers (11-8 overall, 8-4 MIAA A) remain in a tie for first place in the Black Division with Gilman (8-4). Glenelg Country (9-5) sits in third place, while McDonogh (6-7) and St. Vincent Pallotti (5-6) will fight down the stretch for the final playoff spot.
Pictured above: (from left) Mitch Fischer, Jordan Moore and Cam Smith combined for 50 points for the Dons.
NO. 13 LOYOLA 65, NO. 10 BOYS’ LATIN 54
LOY 20 16 15 14 — 65
BL 25 5 13 11 — 54
LOYOLA: Fischer 23, Moore 17, Smith 10. Dixon 9, Walsh 4, Gardner 2.
BOYS’ LATIN: Walker 11. Green 7, Schell 10, Stout 2, Donadio 16, Spencer 5, Austin 3.