Towson Catholic surprises St. Joe No. 9 Owls win, 56-53, in Catholic League opener

Boys basketball

High Schools

January 05, 1998|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With the graduation of two-time All-Metro Player of the Year Mark Karcher, who starred at St. Frances, many teams in the Catholic League hope to climb to the top.

Mount St. Joseph and Towson Catholic, teams with hopes of making a run at the title, met yesterday in a league opener, and the No. 9 Owls held off No. 4 Mount St. Joseph, 56-53.

Lafonte Johnson led Towson Catholic (6-3) with 16 points and sophomore shooting guard Keith Jennifer added 14. B.J. Romanowski led the visiting Gaels (13-2) with 15 points and Sean Johnson scored 12.

Romanowski missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with three seconds left, but the ball was tipped back to him, and his second attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.

"The only thing that was going through my mind was fear," Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniel said of the final moments. "We didn't want to go into overtime with those guys because size often takes over in overtime periods."

Mount St. Joseph boasts one of the area's top front lines in Johnson, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, 6-9 senior center James Baronas and 6-3 senior forward Torrey Butler.

But the Gaels were hurt by their free-throw shooting, hitting only six of 16, including four misses in six attempts in the closing three minutes. Towson Catholic was 14 of 21 from the free-throw line.

With the game tied at 47, Butler missed both ends of a one-and-one, leading to a jumper by Lafonte Johnson that gave Towson Catholic the lead for good with 2: 35 remaining.

Lafonte Johnson, 5-8, converted a Mount St. Joseph turnover into a layup for a 51-47 advantage, completing a 5-0 run by the Owls.

Sean Johnson put in his own miss, bringing Mount St. Joseph to within 54-53 with 13 seconds left, then Romanowski fouled Todd Sykes with seven seconds to play. Sykes hit two free throws for a 56-53 lead.

Butler inbounded the ball to Romanowski, who quickly pushed the ball upcourt and fired a 21-footer that missed. He gained a second opportunity after the tip back, but couldn't hit the wide-open shot from the top of the key.

"Down the stretch, maybe just getting a rebound here or there [would have helped], but I thought we did a good job keeping our composure," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchely said. "Towson Catholic is a good team and their guards are tough to match up with."

(Box score, 8C)

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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