No. 3 St. Joe wins 16th straight

Gaels earn first BCL title by beating Spalding, 63-57

Thomas scores 15 points

Boys basketball

High Schools

February 15, 2003|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Clearly, No. 3-ranked Mount St. Joseph is the hottest private school boys basketball team in the area. It proved it last night in Severn in front of a standing-room-only crowd with a 63-57 victory at No. 5 Archbishop Spalding.

Junior Will Thomas led the Gaels (24-2) to their 16th consecutive win and their first regular-season title in the 32 years of the Baltimore Catholic League.

"It was a great high school atmosphere, packed gym on a Friday night," said Gaels coach Pat Clatchey. "If it snows, so be it."

Spalding (21-5) fell to 10-3 in the Catholic League.

Mount St. Joseph, 12-1 in the Catholic League and two games ahead with one to go in league play, has a shot at earning the top seed in the annual postseason tournament at Goucher College. The Gaels have never won that, either.

Thomas, 6 feet 7, had game-high totals of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Thomas was 7-for-8 from the line, where the Gaels clearly won the game.

Anthony Fair added 10 points and seven boards for the victors.

"We been working on making free throws in practice and coach has been emphasizing making them down the stretch," Thomas said. "I was feeling real confident."

Mount St. Joseph sank 16 of 20 free throws in the final period to finish 26-for-31 for the game.

"Will is a player, the kid's a winner and has kind of taken our program up a notch," Clatchey said. "I thought our defense was tremendous in the first half. To hold them to just 15 points is tremendous. And we did a good job handling their pressure and creating some shots. Down the stretch when we were fatigued, our guys hit their foul shots."

Mount St. Joe also took over sole possession of first place in the combined BCL/Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference by a game with one game left.

Spalding, led by Will Bowers and Rudy Gay, who combined for 24 points last night, is 12-3 in the combined league. Bowers had nine rebounds.

Now 13-2 in the combined league, the Gaels visit No. 10 St. Frances on Tuesday in their final regular-season game.

The league winner earns top seed in the coming BCL/MIAA A Conference tournament that starts Friday at Goucher.

A seedings meeting is scheduled for Sunday evening and two plans will be drawn up contingent upon the Mount St. Joseph at St. Frances makeup on Tuesday. The league will finalize the seedings as determined by the result of that game.

Mount St. Joseph's 10-point lead at the half grew to 39-24 after three periods, but the Cavaliers didn't quit.

Despite losing two key starters in Jesse Brooks, who was held to a season-low two points, and Gay (11 points) to fouls late in the game, the Cavs staged a 33-point fourth period.

Gay had nine of his points in the last period and Tim Brackney had a pair of threes, but Spalding had too much to makeup while the Gaels kept hitting their free throws.

"St. Joe deserved to win," said Cavs coach Mike Glick. "I was impressed. They are the best team in the league right now."

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