No. 5 Cardinal Gibbons realizes it will have to look up to most of its opponents this season, but the Crusaders continue to serve notice that they will not be looked down upon.
Last night, the smallish Crusaders (8-4) beat No. 12 Loyola, 75-62, in the Baltimore Catholic League's first showdown this season and the league opener for both teams.
It was also an MSA A Conference Division II game. Gibbons is 3-0 in the division and Loyola is 0-3.
It was a pivotal victory for a Gibbons team that is still finding itself since losing forward Chucky Lee, 6 feet 2, to a season-ending knee injury last month.
With a starting lineup that features what are really four guards all 6 feet or shorter, Gibbons will be smaller than most of its opponents this season.
"This was a real important game for us," said senior guard Casey Musick, who led Gibbons with 23 points. "We had to establish ourselves."
Gibbons also owns a victory over No. 3 Southern.
Junior forwards Eugene Marshall and Quintin Moody each scored 14 points for Gibbons. Marshall also had 12 rebounds as Gibbons beat Loyola (5-5), 43-37, on the boards.
Senior guard Paul Chryssikos led Loyola with 23 points, including 15 in the first half when the Dons trailed, 36-34.
But he was limited to just three points in the third quarter when Gibbons began to pull away.
After Loyola hit its first basket of the third quarter to tie the game at 36, Moody scored seven to fuel an 11-3 run as Gibbons built a 47-39 lead with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left.
Gibbons led 54-45 at the end of the quarter. Loyola rallied again late in the fourth and got within 62-59 with 2:17 left, but five straight points by Gibbons off a driving layup by Musick and a three-point play by Moody put Gibbons in control, 67-59, with 1:03 remaining.