Gaels put stop to Cavs in 2 OTs

Rebounding, Mack's 3s lift No. 1 Mount St. Joseph past No. 3 Spalding, 63-58

6-foot-7 Thomas stifles Gay

Gaels run record to 14-1, have beaten Cavs 4 in row

High Schools

January 17, 2004|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

A tenacious defensive rebounding effort and six three-pointers by L.J. Mack led top-ranked Mount St. Joseph to a thrilling, 63-58 double-overtime victory at No. 3 Archbishop Spalding in Severn last night.

The Gaels' Will Thomas, the reigning Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year, dominated inside with 15 points and 10 rebounds, in addition to keeping the Cavs' Rudy Gay in check. Mack had career-high totals of 27 points and six field goals from long range, while the Gaels out-rebounded the Cavaliers 22-11 on the defensive end.

"I try to contest all of his shots and make it tough for him to get the ball and most importantly, box him out after he shoots so he doesn't get second chances," said Thomas, 6 feet 7, who held Gay to 17 points and 7-for-26 field-goal shooting.

Mount St. Joseph (14-1), the defending champion, is the only unbeaten team in the Baltimore Catholic League (5-0) and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference (6-0). Spalding (13-3) follows at 5-1 in both leagues.

"We came in here knowing it was going to be a war," said Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey, whose Gaels have won four in a row over Spalding dating to last season.

"I couldn't be more proud of our team. We made some mistakes, but our identity is that we play with a lot of heart. I told our guys that sometimes it comes down to a matter of will, rather than skill.

"And Will stepped up with three fouls and did a tremendous job on Rudy, who is a great player."

Thomas, who is headed to George Mason University, got help from Courtney Thomas (no relation) to hold the high-flying Gay to only six rebounds and four blocked shots.

Spalding point guard Jesse Brooks, who had 11 points, actually out-rebounded Gay with seven total, six defense.

Gay came into the game averaging 21.1 points a game and was consistently boxed out by the Gaels.

"I wasn't worried about scoring tonight, just doing what I could to help my team to win," said Courtney Thomas, who had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds. "I knew if we protected the defensive glass we would have a pretty good chance to win. I tried to get every rebound."

The game was tied at 48 after regulation and at 54 after the first, four-minute overtime period. Mack hit two of his threes in the first overtime to keep the Gaels alive.

"They stayed in that zone and the three was there, so I took it," said Mack. "I felt good, even banged one off the glass."

Neither team scored in the first three minutes of the second overtime. Then, Brian Johnson made his second three-pointer -- the team's eighth of the night -- with 40 seconds remaining and Mount St. Joseph never looked back.

Will Thomas followed with a three-point play off a nifty pass in the paint from Greg Woody to make it 60-56 with 20 seconds left. Johson sank two at the line with 11 seconds on the clock to seal it.

"It was the kind of game you could point to a million plays and say this is what won it or lost it," said Spalding coach Mike Glick. "We've used the zone before and they just made the shots."

Mount St. Joseph took all three meetings with the Cavaliers last season, including the Baltimore Catholic League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference final, 49-48.

It was the first time the feat had been accomplished against a Glick-coached team at Spalding. Glick is in his fifth season with the Cavs.

In the three games against the Gaels last season, Gay totaled 31 points, 30 rebounds and six blocked shots.

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