St. Paul’s traveled to Carroll County Tuesday night and pulled out a come-from-behind, 62-55, MIAA B Conference overtime victory over Gerstell Academy.
The win moves the Crusaders (14-7 overall, 9-2 MIAA B) within one win of clinching first-place in the Black Division and heading into the playoffs as a top seed.
The night did not begin on a strong note for St. Paul’s as it was outscored 17-9 in the opening quarter and the Crusaders trailed 30-20 at the half. Gerstell (12-12 overall, 5-5 MIAA B) stretched its lead to 12 after three-quarters, before St. Paul’s finally got in gear.
The Crusaders closed with a flurry, outscoring the Falcons 20-9 in the fourth quarter and then blitzing Gerstell 8-1 in the overtime period.
AJ Sawyer powered the Crusaders with a game-high 25 points and Michael Ward added 15 points. Kyle Washington, Brad Witt and Tyler Tillery each scored 12 points to pace Gerstell and Anthony Carpenter added 10.
With two league games remaining, St. Paul’s has a commanding division lead, but it is still mathematically possibly for Archbishop Curley (4-4) to tie the Crusaders and win the division on a tie-breaker. The Friars defeated St. Paul’s in their earlier meeting and the two will meet again on the final day of the regular season. If Curley were to win out and St. Paul’s would also lose it’s home game with winless St. John’s Catholic Prep, on Friday, the Friars would win the division. Otherwise, the Crusaders would clinch with a win or one Curley loss.
While the division title remains possible, Curley still has a lot of work to do just to make the playoffs. The Friars are battling with Gerstell and Friends (4-6) for the final two post-season invitations. Curley will host Friends on Wednesday and Gerstell on Friday. They lost to both earlier this year. They also have a game at St. John’s next Wednesday before closing at home against St. Paul’s on Feb. 17.
After visiting Curley on Friday, Gerstell will host Friends and Indian Creek next week to close its league schedule. After playing the Friars and Falcons, Friends will close its league play at St. John’s.