Mount St. Joe master of overtime again, 76-75

Mack's last-second tip-in tops Spalding for 2 titles

Boys basketball

February 18, 2004|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

With its second thrilling over- time victory within a week, this one by 76-75 over No. 3-ranked Archbishop Spalding, host and top-ranked Mount St. Joseph repeated as regular-season champion in two leagues last night.

L.J. Mack's tip-in with one second left in the extra four- minute period lifted the Gaels (25-3) over the Cavaliers (23-6) in front of a roaring, full house.

"These guys just find a way to win, with different guys step- ping up each night," said Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey, whose team captured the Baltimore Catholic League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of our mental toughness and resiliency ... "

It was the Gaels' second over- time victory over Spalding this season, the other by 63-58 in double overtime at Spalding.

The Gaels are 3-0 in overtime games, winning the other by 93-90 in double overtime at No. 2 Gibbons last week. Spalding is 2-2 in extended games this season, of which there have been five in all involving the top three teams.

Rudy Gay, who had a game-high 27 points, the most he has scored against the Gaels in two seasons, made a soft toss-in from under the basket to give Spalding a 75-74 lead with 30 seconds left in overtime.

That basket came after a three-point play from Justin Castleberry, who had 25 points, that put Spalding within 74-73 with 37 seconds left.

With the clock running down, the Mount's Greg Woody missed a short jumper, with Mack grabbing the rebound. Mack's second tip went in with no time apparently left.

"I tapped the ball off the backboard to myself and it came right back to me and I put it in," said Mack, who had six threes and 27 points the first time the two teams played and had three three-pointers and 16 points last night.

"I thought the ballgame was over."

It wasn't, as one second was put back on the clock. It turned out to be one of the longest seconds of the season.

Spalding had to go full court. The long inbounds pass went to Gay at the top of the key at the other end. With Will Thomas, who had 22 points, on his back, Gay caught the ball and, with his back to the basket, took a step and turned to launch a shot that hit the rim. The buzzer did not sound until the ball caromed back.

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