McDonogh surprises St. Joe

Eagles will play against Towson Catholic in Friday's championship

MIAA basketball

February 21, 2007|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Sun

After losing to No. 2 Mount St. Joseph twice during the regular season, McDonogh coach Donta Evans told his team it was just a play or two away from being able to beat the Gaels.

The No. 3 Eagles made those plays last night in a dramatic 49-48 victory over Mount St. Joseph (23-7, 12-5) in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association basketball semifinal at Archbishop Spalding. Senior guard Steve Banks' off-balance shot inside the paint with 4.8 seconds left proved to be the winner and sent McDonogh into Friday night's championship against Towson Catholic, which routed St. Frances, 96-61.

"Luckily I got the ball in a good position to try and do something for my team," said Banks, who finished with nine points. "I just drove the basket and the shot went off the backboard and into the basket. It was time for me to step up in my senior year and do something great."

Mount St. Joseph's two wins over McDonogh during the regular season were by a combined 11 points. Last night, the two teams appeared to know the tendencies of the other and played aggressively from the opening tip. Eight of the game's 11 lead changes happened in the frantic first half.

After trailing by six points with 3:37 left in the half, the Eagles went on an 11-0 run and took a 25-22 lead into the locker room. McDonogh (22-7, 11-6) was paced by senior forward Joe Yermal, who scored nine of his 15 points in the opening two periods.

"This was just a big game and adrenaline basically took over," Yermal said. "The whole team just decided to come out and have fun because we didn't have anything to lose. We lost to these guys in the playoffs before so we just wanted to come out and beat them this time."

No. 1 Towson Catholic 96, No. 4 St. Frances 61 -- After rolling through the regular season of the MIAA undefeated, Towson Catholic was not about to have a letdown last night in the conference playoffs. The Owls used an explosive offense and a relentless defense to put away St. Frances in the league's other semifinal hosted by Archbishop Spalding. Senior Malcolm Delaney, who is bound for Virginia Tech next season, was virtually unstoppable and scored 17 of his game-high 35 points in the first half. "I had to come out and play tough," Delaney said. "Coach [Josh Pratt] was a little nervous about the game but I told him we would be ready. The team really came together today." Towson Catholic (27-4, 17-0) opened a 40-22 lead at halftime, and never let St. Frances back into the game. The Panthers (22-9, 10-7) had trouble adjusting to how quickly Towson Catholic likes to run the floor and simply had no answer for Delaney's range with his jump shots. With 3:06 left in the third quarter, Towson Catholic opened a 56-28 lead, and Pratt is hopeful his squad will maintain the same intensity for the conference championship game Friday against McDonogh, whom the Owls have beaten twice this season. "We haven't played in a week, but we got our legs back," Pratt said. "One thing I have been stressing in practice is intensity."

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