Gaels get stern test from Goretti; Loyola and Mount Carmel pull upsets
by Joe DiBlasi and Derek Toney
In what could have been a classic letdown game, top-ranked Mount Saint Joseph, fresh off its impressive win over St. Frances Academy in Sunday’s MIAA A Conference title game, began its quest for the ever difficult MIAA/BCL title sweep with a hard fought win over visiting St. Maria Goretti, 52-45, Wednesday evening at the Smith Center in Irvington.
The Gaels (28-5 overall), the second-seed, will face Mount Carmel in a semifinal, Friday at 7 p.m. at Loyola University’s Reitz Arena. The sixth-seeded Cougars upset third-seeded and No. 9 Archbishop Spalding, 73-71, Wednesday.
Fifth-seeded Loyola Blakefield went on the road and knocked off fourth-seeded John Carroll School, 60-55, to earn a semifinal date with top-seeded St. Frances. The top-seeded Panthers routed No. 8 seed Calvert Hall College, 92-51. St. Frances and Loyola will open Friday’s semifinal double-header at Reitz at 5:00 p.m.
Mount St. Joseph, looking to claim its eighth BCL Tournament title, had to work to eliminate Goretti, which defeated St. Joe in last year’s semifinals. The pair of Gaels were tied 10-10 at the end of the first quarter, before the Mount went on a 9-0 run to start the second frame.
Junior D’Angelo Stines poured in nine of his game-high 20 points to help MSJ take a 27-16 halftime lead, but Goretti answered. The Hagerstown school put together a 20-point third quarter, behind sharp-shooting playmakers Briggs McClain and Matt Rogers, to cut the St. Joe lead to one, 37-36, with eight minutes to play.
That’s when the Mount’s season-long MVP, Jason Edokpayi, stepped up again. Edokpayi, who finished with 15 points, hit four timely fourth quarter buckets to help St. Joe build a 49-43 lead with two minutes left in regulation.
However, Goretti would not go away. Vincent Payne and McClain each hit 3-pointers to cut the Mount lead to 49-47, with 1:17 left, but St. Joe’s senior guard Tyler Brelsford nailed a clutch free throw at the one minute mark, and then he threw in a bucket from the floor, moments later, ultimately allowing the Mount to secure the win.
“Goretti has some great players,” said Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey. “McClain and Rogers are good. That team can shoot, and no lead is safe against them. In a tournament game like this, you’ve got to find a way to win.
We got a great effort from D’Angelo tonight. He was the best player on the floor. We told our guys at halftime, that somebody had to match his effort and productivity. He’s done that two games in a row now, and it was his offensive performance tonight that helped us get this win.”
Stines, who had a big showing in Sunday’s 76-63 victory over nationally-ranked St. Frances in the MIAA A final at Harford Community College, praised Goretti.
“They played us tough,” said Stines. “They always play us tough. We knew they would come in hungry, and we might have overlooked them a little, because we beat them twice in the regular season.
I just wanted to help my team get another win, help us advance, and survive, or go home. We found a way to get it done.”
After a year reaching the BCL final, it’s one-and-done for Goretti, which lost 86-59 and 69-39, during the regular season. McClain led Goretti with 18 points, and Rogers added 12 Wednesday.
“Tonight it came down to a couple of possessions. We missed a couple of 3’s and we came up short on a couple of free throws, as well,” said Goretti coach Sidney McCray. “We had two really good practices coming in, and we were focused, but credit St. Joe. They got the job done.”
It’s what Mount Carmel did, pulling off the upset Wednesday. Deon Perry scored 22 points and Koralp Turk added 14 for the Cougars (17-12).
Tobie Nnadozie and Billy Minor each added 12, doing most of their damage in the first half as Mount Carmel led 45-35 at halftime. Spalding trimmed the deficit to 54-51 after three quarters, but wasn’t unable to overtake the visitors over the final minutes.
Mount Carmel routed the Cavaliers, 84-59, in Severn a couple of weeks ago. Cam Whitmore finished with 18 points and Ty Peterson scored 15 of his 18 points in the fourth for Spalding (18-12), which displayed great promise this season after winning just six games last season.
The same can be said for Mount Carmel, also winners of six games last season. Now, the Cougars are headed to the BCL final four for the first time since 2017.
It’s back-to-back BCL semifinals for 10th-ranked Loyola after holding off host and No. 11 John Carroll in the always competitive 4 vs. 5 quarterfinal. Senior forward Matt Fischer scored 24 points for the Dons (19-11), and Jordan Moore added 12.
Fischer, a first-team All-BCL selection, scored eight points in the final quarter including six-of-six from the free throw line. Cam Smith, plagued by foul issues in the first half, had eight of his 10 points in the fourth.
Rece Gardner’s two free throws with four seconds sealed the win for the Dons. Jalen Bryant poured in a game-high 27 points for John Carroll, which scored the first seven points in the fourth to take a 43-42 lead.
The Patriots (22-12), who also enjoyed a renaissance season after winning five games last season, later tied the match at 48 on Tyson Commander’s 3-pointer, but two free throws from Fischer and a basket from Smith regained the lead for good for Blakefield.
Next for Loyola is two-time defending champ St. Frances. The second-ranked Panthers began their for a third straight tourney crown with an easy opening round win in East Baltimore.
Jamal West, the BCL Player of the Year, had 21 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (36-4), and junior post Julian Reese finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Williams led Calvert Hall (5-25) with 16 points.
Khyrie Staten and Byron Ireland each finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, for St. Frances, ranked 17th nationally by ESPN. Eleven players scored for the Panthers, who led 52-28 at halftime.
BALTIMORE CATHOLIC LEAGUE TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINALS
NO. 1 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 52, ST. MARIA GORETTI 47
ST. MARIA GORETTI – Oghene 3, McLain 18, Payne 3, Rogers 12, Nkoa-Abessolo 7, Green 4.
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH – Crawley 4, Brelsford 7, Stines 20, Hamlin 2, Edokpayi 15, Carr 4.
GORETTI 10 6 20 11 — 47
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 10 17 10 15 — 52
NO. 10 LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD 60, NO. 11 JOHN CARROLL SCHOOL 55
LOYOLA – Fischer 24, Moore 12, Smith 10, Gardner 7, Walsh 5, Georgelis 2. Totals 18 21-29 60.
JOHN CARROLL – Bryant 27, Commander 12, Tchilombo 6, Basima 4, Vaughn 4, Jakubowski 2. Totals 20 10-16 55.
LOYOLA 13 17 12 18 – 60
JOHN CARROLL 13 11 12 19 – 55
MOUNT CARMEL 73, NO. 9 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 71
MOUNT CARMEL – Perry 22, Turk 14, Nnadozie 12, Minor 12, Little 5, McCoy 5, Edwards 3. Totals 27 14-24 73.
SPALDING – Peterson 18, Whitmore 18, Scott 11, Wheatley 11, Pennick 8, Rivers 3, Elung 2. Totals 26 15-24 71.
MOUNT CARMEL 20 25 8 19 – 73
SPALDING 15 20 16 20 – 71
NO. 2 ST. FRANCES ACADEMY 92, CALVERT HALL COLLEGE 51
CALVERT HALL – Williams 16, Harris 12, Campbell 6, Sand 6, Foxwell 3, Allen 2, Eyring 2, Ogbalu 2, Brogdon 1, Jolivet 1. Totals 18 8-15 51.
ST. FRANCES – West 21, Reese 16, Staten 11, Ireland 10, Curtis 9, Roy 7, Lamothe 4, Baldwin 3, Davis 3, Tayler 3, Butler 2, Jones 1. Totals 35 18-24 92.
CALVERT HALL 15 13 10 13 – 51
ST. FRANCES 24 28 21 19 – 92
49TH BALTIMORE CATHOLIC LEAGUE TOURNAMENT
Wednesday’s quarterfinal results
No. 1 seed St. Frances Academy 92, No. 8 Calvert Hall College 51
No. 2 Mount St. Joseph 52, No. 7 St. Maria Goretti 47
No. 6 Mount Carmel 73, No. 3 Archbishop Spalding 71
No. 5 Loyola Blakefield 60, No. 4 John Carroll School 55
Friday’s semifinal schedule
at Loyola University
Loyola (19-11) vs. St. Frances (36-4), 5 p.m.
Mount Carmel (17-12) vs. Mount St. Joseph (28-5), 7 p.m.
BCL XLIX Championship
at Loyola University
Loyola/St. Frances winner vs. Mount Carmel/Mount St. Joseph, 1 p.m.