For three quarters, it appeared Loyola High and Towson Catholic were headed for one of those typical down-to-the-wire Catholic League finishes last night at Blakefield.
Then, Sidney Johnson, the Owls' senior point guard, fouled out bTC early in the fourth period and with him went all prospects of an exciting finish.
Loyola, ranked sixth in The Baltimore Sun's top 20, took over the game and rolled to a 65-48 victory, gaining a share of second place in the league with Towson Catholic.
"Once Johnson went out with the fouls, they were really hurt," said Dons' coach Jerry Savage. "It forced everybody else to come out and handle the ball and that's not how they're strongest."
Towson Catholic (12-10, 6-3) started the night with only seven players in uniform after being ravaged by academic casualties. The able bodies included two freshmen and a sophomore.
"We're out there playing with jayvee and freshman guys," said Mike Daniel, coach of the No. 8 Owls. "I don't want to take anything away from Loyola, but we just don't have enough bodies.
"If we lose anyone on our starting five we're in big trouble. And Sidney is a tough one to lose because he does everything, rebound, play defense, run the team and score."
Towson Catholic was still within 49-44 when Johnson fouled out. Then the Dons scored the next nine points, all of them by Jerry Hunt and Wes Unseld Jr.
By the time the Owls retaliated on a follow-up shot by freshman Jason Fink, they were hopelessly out of contention.
Hunt, Loyola's second leading scorer, did not have a point in the first half, but packed eight of his 14 into the final period and was a major force on the boards.
Reserve Chuck Henry came off the bench to score two quick buckets for Loyola late in the third period after Towson Catholic had captured its last lead at 42-40.
That put the Dons up, 44-42, and they never looked back.