Gaels Don't Lose Cool

Varsity Basketball No. 1 Mount St. Joseph 69, No. 2 St. Frances 68

Mount St. Joseph Comes Back After Losing Lead Late To Panthers

February 01, 2010|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,GLENN.GRAHAM@BALTSUN.COM

Most teams would have cracked, suddenly down four points in the closing minutes of a game they had controlled most of the way.

But time after time this season, the Mount St. Joseph boys basketball team has shown it isn't like most teams, and the No. 1 Gaels provided more proof Sunday at No. 2 St. Frances.

Hitting big shots at one end, getting timely stops at the other and showing poise at the free-throw line throughout, the Gaels were able to come away with a 69-68 character win over the Panthers.

With the win, Mount St. Joseph (26-2) improves to 12-0 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference and clinches the Baltimore Catholic League regular-season title, thus receiving an automatic berth in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament.

Senior point guard Eric Atkins scored a team-high 19 points, senior forward Ryley Beaumont added 17, including a key 3-pointer after the Gaels went down four, and David Windsor (eight points) hit a pivotal 3-pointer late to help in the win.

/p>"Our team is definitely clicking. Everybody is looking out for each other - we're not a selfish team - and it's helping us," Atkins said. "I don't [think] there's any panic at all with us. We're used to tough games from last year, and it has carried over and helped us this year."

The visitors scored the last eight points in the first half - four on two separate technical foul calls on the Panthers in the final minute - to take a 48-37 lead at the half.

But the Panthers (16-8, 7-2 in the MIAA and 6-2 in the BCL) were able to make up ground in the third quarter behind senior forward Dante Holmes, who scored seven of his game-high 23 points to help cut the Gaels' lead to 55-52 going into the fourth quarter.

Holmes tied the game at 55 on a fast break, and then Wayne Sparrow hit two straight baskets - the second on a dunk on the break - to give the Panthers a 59-55 lead with 4:42 to play.

The Gaels responded - Beaumont hitting a 3-pointer on the next possession - and Windsor's 3 with 2:01 left helped give the visitors a 67-63 lead.

With 18 seconds left, Mount St. Joseph senior guard Matt Miller (12 points) scored on a backdoor layup from a pass by Windsor to give the Gaels a 69-66 lead.

On their next possession, the Panthers chose to drive in for two - Karrell Goines scoring with three seconds left to cut the lead to 69-68 - but never got the ball back.

"I think we have some quality senior leadership here that helps pull us through," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. "We got a little out of kilter today due to them, they're very athletic. ... But I just think we work on situations - keeping your poise and composure - and I was really proud of our resilience today. We just found a way to win."

The Gaels converted 16 of 19 free throws - Atkins missing the last attempt on purpose with one second left - while the Panthers, who shot 59 percent from the field, were just 6-for-18 at the line.

MSJ-Atkins 19, Beaumont 17, Miller 12, Windsor 8, Morton 7, Clinton 6. Totals: 23 16-19 69.

SF-Holmes 23, Sparrow 14, Williams 8, Lewis 7, Cassell Jr. 6, Tarver 4, Goines 4, Forney 2. Totals: 30 6-18 68.

Half: M, 48-37.

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