Michael Jackson came off the bench late, scoring eight of his 10 points in the final quarter, to spark No. 10 Loyola (7-2) to a 61-54 victory over Woodlawn (4-2) in the first semifinal of the Wes Unseld New Year's Classic last night at Catonsville Community College.
Loyola was led by Steve Kraning's 18 points and Jerry Hunt's 17.
The Dons will face Catholic League rival Mount St. Joseph (2-6), 47-42 winner over Broadneck (3-2) in the other semifinal, in tonight's 8 o'clock final.
After Woodlawn had taken a 34-27 lead on the first basket of the second half, Loyola ran off 13 of the next 20 points to take the lead, 40-39, with 1 minutes, 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
Woodlawn regained the lead, 47-46, with 3:48 left, but Jackson ++ hit a jumper with 3:34 left to give Loyola the lead for good, 48-47, then followed that with a free throw to run the lead to 49-47.
"I think he really gave us a spark off the bench," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage, who will be making his first trip to the tournament finals in five tries. "We played pressure defense, and he really helped us turn that up, too."
The Warriors led most of the first half, using three three-pointers by guard Sean Monroe to take advantage of a soft Loyola perimeter defense. Woodlawn was led by Trent Thames' 18 points.
In the other semifinal, Broadneck shaved a 12-point, early third-quarter deficit down to two points, but missed four opportunities to tie the game, the last coming with just less than three minutes left. The loss was the Bruins' first in this tournament after 13 straight victories. Broadneck has won the previous four Unseld titles.
The Gaels hit just four field goals in the second half, but got a big one with 2:15 remaining when Jay English hit a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 41-36. It was the Gaels' first field goal in more than 12 minutes.
Mount St. Joseph was led by English's 12, and Matt Weimer led Broadneck with 11 points.
In the day's first consolation game, Randallstown (2-5) got 18 points from Bill Garrett and 17 from Kenny Hunt to defeat Forest Park, 60-55, and advance to today's fifth-place game at 4:45 p.m. Forest Park was led by Kiann Preston's 13 points.
Randallstown will face Edmondson (3-2), a 92-54 winner of Hammond in the other consolation. Eddie Rivers had a tournament-high 39 points to lead the Redskins. James Grant's 15 led the Bears.