John Carroll's Ronald Scott drives to the hoop against… (Colby Ware / Photo for The…)
The second-ranked John Carroll Patriots were frustrated heading into halftime Sunday at Mount St. Joseph. After leading most of the first half, the Patriots found themselves on the receiving end of two technical fouls and on the wrong end of a three-point game. After the half, they decided to get defensive. Real defensive.
The visiting Patriots used a tight man-to-man defense — and the offense created off of the pressure — to turn their halftime deficit into a 63-47 win in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League game.
Ronald Scott led all scorers with 27 for John Carroll (21-2, 6-0 MIAA, 8-0 BCL). Kameron Williams led the No. 8 Gaels (15-6, 3-3 MIAA, 5-3 BCL) with 12 points.
"We wanted our revenge since we lost here last year," Scott said. "[The officials] weren't letting us play and [the Gaels] were playing good defense. We just knew we had to stay aggressive on defense and keep playing hard."
It looked like the Patriots would have an easy time when they ran out to a 9-0 lead early in the game. The Gaels gradually got back into the game using a combination of man-to-man and zones to cut the margin to 25-22 with 1:32 left in the half. The Gaels scored the final six points of the half — three of them coming on technical foul free throws — to take a 28-25 lead at the half.
"We knew we had to keep our composure," said Patriots forward Jarred Jones (16 points). "We couldn't help what happened in the first half. We just needed to step up the pressure. We knew they had played four games in five days, so we thought we could tire them out."
John Carroll's defense began to pay dividends almost immediately after the break. The Patriots scored the first six points, with four of those coming from Scott, to take a 31-28 lead. After the Gaels' David Windsor hit two free throws to cut the margin to 31-30, John Carroll held Mount St. Joseph scoreless for the next 4:30 while running out to a 40-30 lead.
"We started talking on defense [in the second half], and began playing solid, hard, half-court defense," John Carroll coach Tony Martin said. "We got a little frustrated in the first half, but we overcame a little adversity."
The Patriots are undefeated in their first year in the Baltimore Catholic League, and the team has made it a goal to win both the BCL and the MIAA A Conference titles. Martin says it would be a special season indeed if they were able to pull it off.
"The Catholic League is one of the best leagues in the country, so winning that would really be something special," Martin said. "We're definitely heading in the right direction. Our core players are developing well, but we're not there yet."
John Carroll — Frink 4, McMillan 13, Scott 27, Jones 16, Elliott 1, M. Owana 2. Totals: 21 17-23 63.
Mount St. Joseph — Windsor 10, Ross 4, Nardolillo 4, Both 10, Morton 6, Lawrence 2, Williams 12, Long 3. Totals: 16 10-13 47. Halftime, MSJ 28-25.