In its run to the MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League crowns, Mount St. Joseph was sparked by 6-foot-9 junior Jalen Smith and Darryl Morsell, a 6-foot-4 jumping jack headed to the University of Maryland. But the Gaels’ bid for Baltimore basketball immortality was blocked by an impressive mighty mite.
Gonzaga College from the District defeated the third-ranked Gaels, 82-70, in the championship game of the 57th Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State. Chris Lykes scored 37 points for the Eagles (34-5 overall), ranked No. 2 in the District region by the Washington Post, and Prentiss Hubb added 24.
Mount St. Joseph (37-4) was unable to slow down the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champs in the final quarter, missing a shot to become the first BCL squad to win the prestigious Alhambra title since 1996 when St. Frances Academy, led by BCL Hall of Famer and two-time All-Met Player of the Year Mark Karcher, ended a 14-year drought (Calvert Hall College, 1982).
The Gaels, in their first Alhambra final since 2006 when they lost to DeMatha Catholic for their lone blemish in a 38-1 campaign, trailed by many as nine points in the first half Saturday. Down 36-34 at halftime, the Irvington school stormed in front, 54-49, in the third quarter.
But Gonzaga, led by the 5-foot-7 Lykes, outscored the Gaels, 31-16, in the first quarter. Lykes, a University of Miami recruit, added 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals to earn tournament MVP honors.
Morsell, the BCL Tournament MVP, and Smith, the BCL overall and Defensive Player of the Year each led Mount St. Joseph with 16 points. Morsell (five assists) and Smith (six assists) were named to the all-tournament team.
Jaden Robinson (13 points), James Bishop (12) and Kendall McMillan (11) each scored in double-figures for the Gaels, who shot just one-of-15 from 3-point range (Gonzaga was 10-of-16). Mount St. Joseph, which swept the MIAA A and BCL crowns after title game losses in both last season, graduates only Morsell, Robinson and Nigel Jackson (Wagner) from its roster.
In its second Alhambra appearance, Mount Carmel captured third-place with a 67-65 come-from-behind victory over St. Maria Goretti, in a rematch of a BCL semifinal from the week before. Junior forward Jordan Jones had 20 points for the Cougars (29-11), and Tennessee-Chattanooga recruit Terry Nolan added 18 points and six rebounds.
Trailing 36-24 at halftime, Mount Carmel outscored the Gaels, 26-11, in the third quarter. Illinois State-bound guard Elijah Clarance finished with a game-high 21 points for Goretti (27-9), which lost to Gonzaga in Friday’s semifinals after knocking off DeMatha Catholic in the first round Thursday.
Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament
at Frostburg State
Gonzaga College (DC) 82, No. 3 Mount St. Joseph 70
Mount St. Joseph – Myers 2, Bishop 12, Robinson 13, McMillan 11, Morsell 16, Smith 16. Totals 27 15-20 70.
Gonzaga – Lykes 34, Hubb 27, Scott 6, Dread 8, Watts 7. Totals 32 8-8 82.
Mount St. Joseph 13 21 20 16 – 70
Gonzaga 20 16 15 31 – 82
Third-place consolation final
No. 5 Mount Carmel 67, St. Maria Goretti 65
Goretti – Clarance 21, Mack 2, Kuhn 19, Edwards 6, Harris 9, Blakney 8. Totals 23 17-22 65.
Mount Carmel – Felton 10, Evans 9, Gaines 4, Nolan 18, Jones 20, Quickley 2, Thomas 4. Totals 25 12-17 67.
Goretti 20 16 11 18 – 65
Mount Carmel 16 8 26 17 – 67