John Carroll's Malcolm McMillan holds up the Baltimore… (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore…)
All season, the John Carroll boys basketball team has made the most of its extensive resources, having balance on offense and playing smart, tireless team defense.
When necessary, the No. 2 Patriots always know they can lean on their talented senior backcourt of Malcolm McMillan and Ronald Scott.
Nothing changed in Tuesday night's 40th annual Baltimore Catholic League championship game against No. 5 St. Frances.
Taking charge early and maintaining a safe distance throughout, the Patriots were simply a little better in every phase against the Panthers, pulling away in the fourth quarter to earn a 57-45 win at Loyola University's Reitz Arena that sealed instant success in the program's first season in the BCL.
Scott scored a game-high 19 points, and McMillan added 12 as the Patriots (32-2) added another plaque to their trophy case in Bel Air. On Feb. 20, they defeated St. Frances to capture the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship. It was the fourth time this season John Carroll has gotten the better of St. Frances (18-7), its closest rival in both league standings this season.
"This feels great. I would say what separated us from everybody else is our hard work," said McMillan, who earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors to go with his co-BCL Player of the Year honors. "We didn't come to to the game too comfortable, because we knew St. Frances is a good team, so we came in and played hard, relaxed, and were able to take over the game to win it."
The Patriots got a good early sign when freshman forward Lionel Owona scored two inside baskets to get them out to a fast 6-0 advantage. Throughout the game, Owona and his brother, Christian, a sophomore forward, controlled rebounds and neutralized St. Frances senior center Greg Lewis.
While the Patriots apeared in control throughout — leading from start to finish — they weren't able to shake the Panthers until early in the fourth quarter, when they went on a 15-6 run behind Scott's 10 points for a 50-36 lead with 2:24 to play.
"This was the fourth time playing them, so we had to exceed their energy by playing harder and giving a great effort on offense and defense," said Scott, who earned a spot on the All-BCL Tournament Team. "This feels real good. We won the MIAA and the BCL, so it feels great. This was the first year [in the BCL], so we set the tone."
Joining McMillan and Scott on the All-Tournament Team were Lewis and his teammate senior guard R.J. Williams, along with Mount St. Joseph sophomore guard Kameron Williams and Calvert Hall junior guard Justin Beck.
Williams, who shared BCL Player of the Year honors with McMillan, finished with a team-high 14 points, while Lewis added nine points before fouling out with 4:29 to play in the fourth quarter.