John Carroll's Ronald Scott (3) scores two of his game-high… (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore…)
John Carroll earned its first trip to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference finals. But it wasn't an easy task.
Ronald Scott scored five of his game-high 18 points in the final 1:37 to help No. 2 John Carroll hold off No. 10 McDonogh, 58-54, in an MIAA A Conference semifinal on Wednesday night.
The victory earned the host Patriots a spot in the A Conference title game against two-time defending champion St. Frances. The sixth-ranked Panthers also won a semifinal game Wednesday, beating No. 9 Mount St. Joseph, 55-47.
The championship will be played at 2 p.m. at UMBC on Sunday. John Carroll (28-2) has won both of its meetings with St. Frances (17-5) this season.
The Patriots didn't appear to be in much trouble against McDonogh early on, taking a 9-2 lead in the opening minutes and jumping out to a 29-18 halftime lead. But the John Carroll coaches gave their team a warning at the break.
"We told them at halftime that they were going to come," John Carroll coach Tony Martin said. "They weren't going away. We had to keep our composure."
Not only did the Eagles not go away, but they suddenly began to rally early in the fourth quarter. That's when B.J. Andrews (12 points) and Robby Weingart (17 points) gave McDonogh a spark with back-to-back 3-pointers. Denzell Walker (nine points) then made two free throws to finish the 8-0 run and cut the lead to 45-44 with 6:29 left.
McDonogh tied it twice, the second time when Andrews made two of three free throws to make it 49-49 with 3:47 remaining. The Patriots slowly took charge after that, starting when Malcolm McMillan (nine points) hit a spinning jumper 36 seconds later for a 51-49 edge.
The Eagles then turned the ball over on three straight possessions. John Carroll scored four straight points off those turnovers, the final two coming on a layup by Scott with 1:37 left.
Scott added two free throws with 26 seconds left for a 57-54 lead. McDonogh had a chance to tie it, but moments later Taysean Scott (Ronald's brother) had a pass picked off as he was falling. Ronald Scott sealed the victory on his free throw with five seconds left.
Jarred Jones (15 points) and Mike Owona (10 points) also helped the John Carroll offense.
"We knew they were going to make a run in the second half," Ronald Scott said. "We had to … stay focused and keep composed."
St. Frances (17-5) needed to do the same thing in its game against Mount St. Joseph (21-9). The Panthers never trailed and scored 18 of their 55 points to pull away in the fourth quarter and earn a return to the title game.
Eddie Tarver and Shakir Brown led St. Frances with 15 points apiece. Tarver hit three 3-pointers, and Brown got two more.
R.J. Williams added 11 points, seven assists and three steals. The Loyola-bound guard also helped the Panthers by going 9-for-9 from the free-throw line, including making all five of his fourth-quarter attempts.
Kameron Williams led the Gaels with 12 points. They fell behind, 8-0, at the start and cut the St. Frances lead to one in the third quarter but never took the lead.