25 years of excellence Basketball tradition: The Baltimore Catholic League, formed in 1971, has produced nationally ranked teams and players who have gone on to pro careers in the NBA.

March 02, 1996|By Bob Clark | Bob Clark,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the past 25 years, it has consistently provided some of the best high school basketball in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Baltimore Catholic League Basketball Tournament has become a local tradition.

The silver anniversary edition of the tournament opened with three first-round games last night at Goucher College and continues tomorrow with semifinals and concludes Monday with the championship game.

And the cast of characters couldn't be much better.

"This league has been strong from the beginning," said Cardinal Gibbons coach Bryan Moorhouse, who has coached for 23 of the league's 25 seasons (22 as assistant to the late Ray Mullis at Gibbons). "And this year from top to bottom it might be as strong as it's ever been."

Four of the seven teams are ranked among the top 13 in the area, including No. 1 St. Frances -- the defending champion.

And for the past quarter-century that's the kind of quality that this league has contained. It formed in 1971, breaking from the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference after a near riot at Dunbar when Mount St. Joseph beat the Poets in a playoff for a Division II title.

The next season, Dunbar was not allowed to have any home games as a penalty for its fans' actions, and the Catholic League athletic directors went in a new direction -- a six-team league, including former A Conference members Mount St. Joe, Loyola, Calvert Hall, Cardinal Gibbons and Towson Catholic and newly added Archbishop Curley.

Loyola went 10-0 in the league that first season and swept the initial tournament in 1972 behind seniors Morris Cannon and Mark Rohde. The Dons became the dominant team in the 1970s with Pete Budko and Tony Guy and then Robert Selby leading them to five tournament titles by 1978.

"When I think back over the seasons I remember the league in terms of eras," said Loyola assistant coach Pat Maggio, now in his 20th year in the league, 13 as head coach at Mount St. Joseph. "In the mid-70s it was the Budko and Guy era, then Quintin Dailey and Gibbons took over in the late '70s. The early '80s belonged to Duane Ferrell and Calvert Hall and then St. Maria Goretti came in with Rodney Monroe. In the early '90s Devin Gray and St. Frances became a power and that's carried over with Mark Karcher."

During the years there have been some great teams, but the best of all might have been Calvert Hall's undefeated team, which was No. 1 ranked nationally for the 1981-82 season.

"It's almost impossible to compare teams from different eras," said Maggio, whose St. Joe team lost three times to the Cardinals that season, including an 85-81 defeat in the tournament final. "But that Calvert Hall team had the resourcefulness to win every game. And for that reason alone I think you'd have to put them up there."

St. Maria Goretti started playing in the tournament in 1983. After the Gaels were led to the tournament championship by Monroe in 1985, they entered the league and ran off two more tournament titles behind the prolific scoring of Monroe.

"One of the things that the league and the tournament has done is shown that you can have continuity over the years," said Jerry Savage, who has coached at Loyola during the entire 25 years.

"Of the seven teams in the league now, five have been in for all 25 seasons," Savage said. "It's that tradition and rivalry that made this league stronger. The changes have been very few. It's lasted over time because of the strength of the schools and the camaraderie of the players and coaches."

Gibbons has won the most tournaments (six) with Loyola and Calvert Hall tied for second with five. Goretti and Towson Catholic have each won three and St. Frances is favored to win its third this season.

Catholic League tournament 25th anniversary team

A list of the top 20 players for the Catholic League tournament's 25th anniversary team based on performances in the tournament:

Name, High school -- Norman Black, Gibbons

All-Tourn. -- '74-75

College -- St.Joseph (Pa.)

Comment -- Teamed with Crusader Robert Valderas at St. Joe.

Name, High school -- Pete Budko, Loyola

All-Tourn. -- '75-77

College -- Loyola

Comment -- McDonald's first-team All America with Magic Johnson

Name, High school -- Morris Cannon, Loyola

All-Tourn. -- '72

College -- Loyola

Comment -- Led Dons to first tournament title; scored 1,310 points in college.

Name, High school -- Tim Coles, Gibbons

All-Tourn. -- '81-82

College -- Connecticut

Comment -- Big numbers at UConn after battling unbeaten

Calvert Hall

Name, High school -- Quintin Dailey, Gibbons

All-Tourn. -- '77-79

College -- San Francisco

Comment -- All America in college played for Bulls and Clippers

Name, High school -- Leon Dickerson, Gibbons

All-Tourn. -- '87-88

College -- Holy Cross

Comment -- MVP in '88 had strong career in college

Name, High school -- Paul Edwards, Calvert Hall

All-Tourn. -- '80

College -- Mount St. Mary's

Comment -- Along with his brother Darryle helped start Calvert Hall run in the '80s

Name, High school -- Duane Ferrell, Calvert Hall

All-Tourn. -- '82-84

College -- Georgia Tech

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