Mt. St. Joe doesn't skip a beat



Through its first seven games, all victories, the top-ranked Mount St. Joseph basketball team looked every bit like the defending Baltimore Catholic League champions.

Its powerful frontcourt of Louis Birdsong (6 feet 6, 230 pounds) and Dino Gregory (6-8, 225) has been dominant on the boards, guards Chase Adams, Kevin Swecker and Dejuan Goodwin have worked well together as a trio, and sixth man Henry Sims, a 6-9, 210-pound sophomore, "has been coming on strong," according to Gaels coach Pat Clatchey.

Birdsong averaged nearly 15 points, just over eight rebounds and two blocked shots, and Gregory, more than 12 points, nearly nine rebounds and more than four blocked shots. Goodwin averaged nearly 10 points and four rebounds to lead the guards, and Sims, five rebounds and three blocks coming off the bench.

"Louis has been very consistent, and the rest of the team has really played well," Clatchey said. "They're making me look good as a coach."

Clatchey now looks ahead to the Gaels' next challenge, an appearance in the Dec. 27-30 Capital City Basketball Classic at Benedictine High in Richmond, Va.

In addition to the host school, the classic features perennial power Germantown Academy of Philadelphia, Bullis Prep of Montgomery County and George Wyth, a local Virginia school that opens against the Gaels on Dec. 29.

Blogging her way

When she played high school basketball in Rochester, N.Y., in the early 1960s, St. Frances Academy president Sister John Francis Schilling wanted to be a sportswriter. Instead, she answered a higher calling.

More than 40 years later, Sister John Francis has found a way to make her sportswriting dream come true with a basketball blog on the St. Frances Web site.

"When I was in high school there were no female sportswriters, so there was no possibility. Now I have my chance," she said.

Sister John Francis has been a regular at Panthers boys and girls basketball games for all 21 years of her tenure at the East Baltimore Catholic high school. She coached the girls team for five years soon after she arrived at St. Frances, but now, you'll find her courtside at home and on the road. Keeping her own scorebook, she tracks every basket.

"I just like to keep stats," said Sister John Francis, who also tracks the baseball team.

"I like to do it so the kids can see that more than points count. Steals and assists count, too. In writing the articles, I like to look at the kids who play the whole game and do a lot of things well."

Quick start for Gators

Seton Keough basketball coach Jackie Boswell was cautiously optimistic in preseason about her talented Gators, and they have lived up to their lofty billing.

With wins last week over then-No. 2 McDonogh and No. 3 Towson Catholic, the Gators have vaulted to No. 2 in The Sun 's Top 15 poll. They went 2-1 in their first three games against top-five opponents - all Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference foes.

The Gators fell only to defending champ and No. 1 St. Frances before rebounding against Towson Catholic and McDonogh.

Friday night, the Gators showed their ability to hold on when an opponent rallies late in the game. McDonogh closed a 13-point gap to two with a minute and a half left, but the Gators held it off.

Aysa Bussie, a 6-3 freshman who had 11 points and 19 rebounds, hit a pair of free throws with 56 seconds left to seal the win. Sophomore point guard B.J. Williams had 10 points and 12 rebounds, while senior forward Haliena Snowden also had a strong inside game, contributing seven points and 11 rebounds.

Williams said the Gators didn't mind being ranked No. 5 in preseason, because it provided incentive to beat those A Conference teams ranked ahead of them.

"We just came out with that intensity, because we want to be No. 1," Williams said. "It's fun playing these good teams. It's like a rush, playing teams that are so highly ranked, really good teams."

Basketball Academy

The teams scheduled to participate in the Jan. 5-7 Basketball Academy Tournament at Morgan State have been announced. They represent boys and girls programs from Baltimore, Harford and Prince George's County, as well as those from Baltimore City, Philadelphia and New York.

The three-day event features Baltimore City boys programs that include state champions Dunbar and Walbrook, as well as those from Carver, Douglass, Lake Clifton and Mervo. The city girls are represented by state runners-up City and Western.

Baltimore County will be represented by boys teams from Owings Mills, Parkville and Woodlawn, and girls teams from New Town and Milford Mill.

Carver is led by guard Glenny Moore, who led the Bears football team to a 10-0 regular season and the Class 3A North regional semifinals. Dunbar guard Marcus Taylor was an All-City quarterback, and Douglass guard Antione Smithson was a second-team All-Metro pick in football.

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