It was just as Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Maggio had planned it.
A short baseline jumper by Brian Dunn with five seconds remaining carried the visiting and No. 8 Gaels to a 79-78 victory over No. 5 Cardinal Gibbons and into sole possession of first place in the Catholic League yesterday.
Trailing 78-77 with 19 seconds to play, Maggio had called a timeout and set up the final play for his Gaels. They worked it to perfection.
"The first thing I told them was not to rush and to try to shoot the ball with five or six seconds," Maggio said. "We wanted Darrin [Jones] to handle the ball with the others along the baseline. We thought [Gibbons] would double-team him."
Jones (19 points) worked the clock down to about nine seconds before passing to Ronnie Isaacs as he moved into the lane. The Gibbons defense reacted to the pass and covered Isaacs, who bounced the ball to Dunn, open on the baseline.
"I saw Ronnie was getting into trouble, and he just gave me a nice bounce pass," said Dunn, whose follow-up basket had closed the deficit to 78-77 with 29 seconds left. "I knew it was in when it left my hand. It's a big thrill to beat Gibbons, especially at Gibbons."
"Give the kid credit; he made a big shot," Gibbons coach Ray Mullis said. "It was a great play. They did a very good job under adverse circumstances."
Casey Musick, who had scored 15 of his 27 points during the second-half Gibbons rally, put up a desperation shot just past half-court at the final buzzer, but it was way off, allowing St. Joe to claim its second straight top 10 victim in the past eight days.
Last Sunday, Pat Young scored with four seconds left to carry the Gaels (10-4, 3-0) to a one-point win over St. Frances (then ranked No. 7) and into a tie with Gibbons atop the Catholic League.
Against Gibbons, the Gaels had led by as many as 14 in the first half, as Young, who led all scorers with 29 points and fouled out with 37 seconds left, had 16 before intermission. But a second half-surge by the Crusaders (10-5, 2-1), led by Ross Peacock, who scored all of his 14 points in the second half, made things difficult for St. Joe.
St. Joe trailed, 64-60, early in the fourth quarter after two baskets by Quintin Moody (26 points) had moved the Crusaders ahead. And although St. Joe took a 66-64 lead midway through the quarter, Gibbons held a 78-75 lead after two free throws by Peacock with 37 seconds to play.
But Dunn scored inside, and then Gibbons was called for a walking violation to set up the winning shot.
"St. Joe played extremely well in the first half, and we played well in the second half," Mullis said. "It was a typical Catholic League game."
"The two teams are pretty even," said Maggio. "We did some things pretty well in the first half, but we knew they'd come after us in the second half because they're a good team."
In other Catholic League games: No. 12 Loyola (9-6, 3-1) used a balanced attack in an 84-37 rout of host Archbishop Curley (5-9, 0-4). Paul Chryssikos led 12 Loyola scorers with 14 points, and Paul Howard added 12.
Jamal Davis led Curley with 13 points.
Devin Gray had 18 points and 12 rebounds, as No. 15 St. Frances (6-4, 2-2) defeated St. Maria Goretti, 57-37, at the University of Baltimore.
Michael Smith added 15 points and nine rebounds for St. Frances.
Roland Brown scored a game-high 16 and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead visiting Calvert Hall (5-9, 2-2) over Towson Catholic, 46-38.
James Burrell paced Towson Catholic with 12 points.