FROSTBURG - Mount St. Joseph and Towson Catholic were both victorious yesterday over Philadelphia powers in the first round of the 45th Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State University.
It's the first time since 1982 that two Baltimore Catholic League teams won on opening day. Eventual champion Calvert Hall under Mark Amatucci and Cardinal Gibbons under the late Ray Mullis did it 23 years ago.
That was the second of only three tournaments won by Baltimore teams - St. Frances (1996) and Towson Catholic (1962) were the others.
Yesterday, No. 2 Mount St. Joseph dominated inside with 6-foot-6 junior Louis Birdsong, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds, to defeat St. Joseph's Prep, 54-45.
No. 7 Towson Catholic stunned Neumann-Goretti, 67-57, in the first game of the day.
Coach Pat Clatchey's Gaels (30-3), who set a school record for wins, will play DeMatha (28-1), USA Today's No. 3 team in the country, at 9:15 tonight in the semifinals. DeMatha advanced by routing host Bishop Walsh, 90-39.
Towson Catholic (26-10) meets Bishop O'Connell (29-3) of Alexandria, Va., in tonight's other championship semifinal at 7:30.
O'Connell defeated Roman Catholic of Philadelphia, 49-39, making this the first time since 1979 that three Philadelphia teams lost on the first day.
Sophomore guard Malcolm Delaney scored 16 of his team-high 22 points in the second half, eight in each of the third and fourth periods to pace the Owls to the upset of Neumann-Goretti, which came into the tournament ranked No. 8 in the country.
"We liked being the underdog and came out confident, letting them know we came to play," said Delaney, who also dished off five assists and had five rebounds.
Three other Owls were in double figures. Kyle Cannon scored 13, and Donte Greene and Lawrence Nwevo had 10 points each.
"I'm really proud of our guys and the way they are growing up," said Owls coach Mike Daniel, who has been named to coach in the United States Basketball Sports Summit in Seattle in June.
The top 40 underclassmen in the nation will play in the Summit.
In Mount St. Joseph's win, Birdsong was complemented by guards Greg Woody and Brian Johnson, who had 11 and 14 points each for the Gaels, who led most of the way.
"Since we lost in the BCL tournament, we felt like we wanted to prove something up here," said Birdsong. "We wanted another shot at DeMatha."
DeMatha dealt Mount St. Joseph its first loss by 75-66 in the Gonzaga Tournament in December.