This is the first of a seven-part series looking at the Baltimore Catholic League top 50 teams of all-time, ranked by Baltimore Sports and Life high school sports analyst Wille Sean Coughlan. The series will continue every weekly through the heart of the 52nd BCL tournament, ending on March 1st, with the top five BCL teams of all-time.
41 ‘82 Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders (27-9) Coach Ray Mullis > #4 in the Sun, BCL regular season and tournament runner-up, Sea Gull Classic runner-up, Alhambra 6th 1-2
Tim Coles 6’7 SR; All-Met 1st, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 1st, 20.3p/10.1r (Connecticut)
Mike Brown 6’3 SO; 17.2 ppg (Clemson / Syracuse)
David Burgess 6’8 SR; 8.9p/10.2r/3.0b (Virginia Tech)
Marty Johnson 6’2 JR; (Richmond / Towson)
John Littles 6’2 SR; 12.6 ppg
Brian Simmons 6’5 JR
Ron Harper 6’3 SO
The ‘81-82 high school basketball season in the Baltimore area would be the grandest of all. A season this area had never saw before, or has seen ever since. Three teams in the area ranked among the top 15 teams in the country in the ‘81-82 pre-season rankings, including Calvert Hall at #1, Dunbar at #3, and Cardinal Gibbons at #13.
Calvert Hall and Dunbar played an epic triple-overtime thriller the season before, and just about everyone on both teams were returning, and the Poets were adding transfers, ‘Muggsy’ Bogues and Reggie Lewis.
As for the Crusaders, they were ranked among the top 15 in the ‘78-79 season, when they were led by high school All-American Quinton Dailey. That Crusaders team became the first BCL team to be ranked among the top 15 in the country, and the ‘81 Cardinals became the second, finishing #8 in the country. The ‘82 Cardinals returned four starters from their ‘81, 29-2 team.
Though Mullis had a handful of talented teams in the past, and two BCL championship teams, this ‘81-82 team projected to be his most talented cast yet, more talented than his ‘73-74 BCL championship team that finished 26-4, more talented than the Crusaders team a year later when their two top stars on the ‘74 team were seniors, and more talented than Dailey’s senior team, that finished 27-5.
Mullis had size and skill in the paint in 6’7 senior Tim Coles and 6’8 senior Dave Burgess, a point guard extraordinaire in junior Marty Johnson, and arguably one of the two most talented sophomores in the area (along with the Cards Duane Farrell) in 6’3 Mike Brown.
The Crusaders might not have had quite the talent Calvert Hall had, and they certainly didn’t have the experience together like the Cards had for two full seasons, but the Crusaders had the talent to take on the toughest schedule Mullis had ever compiled. If this team could come together and gel, it could be dangerous.
The Crusaders began the season with a solid 84-72 victory over Western Maryland private power St Maria Goretti, before hosting the #8 team in the country, Archbishop Carroll DC, featuring guard Jeff Baxter. The #13 Crusaders upset the Lions, 70-69, with the sophomore Brown scoring 22 points, and Burgess blocking nine shots.
The Crusaders followed that with a win over DC Interhigh titan HD Woodson, 64-54, outscoring the Warriors 33-12 in the fourth quarter, where Brown scored ten of his team-high 24 points in a four minute span. Burgess scored nine of his 15 points in the quarter, and added nine rebounds and four blocked shots, while Littles added 15 points. Two days later, the Crusaders knocked off Gonzaga DC, 61-52, without Coles, who sat out with an ankle injury, as Brown scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
As if that wasn’t a full December, Mullis had his troops compete in the ultra-competitive Sea Gull Classic in Absecon, New Jersey, featuring many of the top teams on the East Coast. The Crusaders took on Philly private power LaSalle in the first round, and came back to take a 72-61 win, using an 18-0 fourth quarter run to turn a nine point deficit into a nine point lead, behind the heroics of Brown, who scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the final stanza.
The Crusaders followed that with another victory over a Philly private power, Roman Catholic, a fellow top 25 team in the country. The Crusaders topped the Callihites, 64-59, as Coles starred with 24 points and 16 rebounds.
That set up a showdown with the top team in South Jersey, Atlantic City, with Willie Glass and Ralph Talley. The Crusaders found a tough going, seeing four players foul out in a 58-51 loss. Coles fouled out with the game tied at 49. The Vikings shot 24 of 31 from the line, while the Crusaders shot just three of nine. Still, the Crusaders went into the new year with an 11-1 record, with a half of a dozen quality wins, including a pair over nationally ranked opponents – Archbishop Carroll DC and Roman Catholic PA.
The Crusaders began the 1982 calendar year with a thrilling 66-65 victory over host Mt St Joe in the Gaels Invitational, when Coles hit a game-winning foul shot with one second to play. The Crusaders followed that with a pair of quality out-of-conference wins over St Anthony’s DC, 61-51, and St Joseph Prep PA, 69-56, with Coles scoring 19 points and Littles adding 18 points in the win over their DC counterparts, and Brown pouring in 27 points on 11-16 shooting in the victory over their Philly counterparts.
In all, the Crusaders ran off a nine game winning streak since their loss to nationally ranked Atlantic City, including a win over Loyola, who was battling for third place with Mt St Joe.
That left the Crusaders at 20-1 as they approached their first meeting with their league rival, Calvert Hall, the top ranked team in the country. Once before, Mullis had a Crusaders team face the top ranked team in the country, and came out victorious. Seven years before, his Crusaders upset #1 Dunbar of DC, beating the Crimson Tide by ten points in the Benectine Capital Classic holiday tournament in December of ‘74.
This one would be even more special, playing a league rival before 5,200 at the Towson Center, including 100 scouts on hand to see Coles, Brown, and the Cardinals’ Mark Wilson and Duane Farrell. The first half was a stalemate, with the Cards taking a 34-32 lead into intermission, before the #1 team in the country found separation in the second half and registered an 84-74 win. Coles scored 26 points in a losing cause. That loss spurred a landslide of losses, both literally and physically, as two weeks later, the Crusaders starting five was decimated by losing three starters due to failing grades.
Still, with a full unit, the Crusaders lost a second consecutive game when they fell to Mt St Joe in their first official league game with the Gaels, 70-61, as they committed 16 turnovers, and Coles fouled out, after scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The Crusaders rebounded with their second win over Loyola, and another over city contender Walbrook, 63-51, after sprinting out to a 22-4 first quarter.
The Crusaders entered their showdown with national juggernaut Oak Hill VA with a 22-3 record. The Crusaders made a game of it, trailing by only three points after three quarters, before the Warriors walked away with a 77-68 victory. The Crusaders won two more games before losing Brown, Burgess, and Littles, due to grades.
The loss was devastating. The Crusaders were 24-4 and having an outstanding year, with more than a half dozen high-quality wins, and three of their four losses coming to nationally ranked teams. The Crusaders would face Calvert Hall in their second meeting with a depleted roster, but fought hard, and took a 35-33 lead into halftime. The Cards outscored the Crusaders 19-13 in the third quarter to take a four point lead, before holding off the challengers in a 74-67 win. Marty Johnson led the new-look Crusaders with 19 points, while Coles added 16 points.
The Crusaders closed the regular season with a narrow 58-57 victory over Mt St Joe, to finish 26-5, and hold the two seed in the league tournament, with a fourth meeting with Mt St Joe likely awaiting in the semifinals.
The Crusaders received a bye as the two seed, and the Gaels held up their end of the bargain with a 45-38 win over Curley in the first round. The Crusaders had won two of three against the Gaels, including two, one-point victories. The Crusaders were outmatched, falling behind 17-8 after one quarter, leading to a 62-48 loss, and an ouster from the playoffs.
The almost non-recognizable Crusaders then dropped a pre-Alhambra tune-up with St Johns DC, before losing two of three at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, finishing in sixth place.
The Crusaders topped Bishop McGuinness of North Carolina on day one, 61-49, before falling to DeMatha, 86-68, on day two. The Stags stretched a two possession game in the third quarter with a 12-4 run and never looked back. Marty Johnson scored a game-high 29 points, while Coles scored 13 points, before fouling out. Day three would fare no better for the Crusaders, as they closed their season losing for the fifth time in eight games, all without Brown, Burgess, and Littles. Coles poured in 36 points in the loss to Mackin, in his final high school game.
It was a tale of two seasons for Mullis and the Crusaders – the first ten weeks, going 24-4, and on pace to put together one of the greatest seasons in BCL history, outside of the Cardinals’ ‘80, ‘81, and ‘82 seasons, and a possible national top ten ranking. Then, the last five weeks, losing five of eight, and getting bounced from the nation’s top 25.
Overall, regardless of the season’s end, the Crusaders won 27 games, with high-quality wins over Archbishop Carroll DC, Roman Catholic PA, La Salle PA, Gonzaga DC, Bishop McGuinness NC, St Joseph Prep PA, HD Woodson DC, St Anthony’s DC, and two wins over Mt St Joe, two wins over Loyola, another over Goretti, and another over Walbrook.
Six of the Crusaders nine losses came to nationally ranked teams, including a pair to Calvert Hall, one to Atlantic City, Oak Hill, DeMatha, and Mackin. Two of the other remaining three came without Brown, Burgess, and Littles. Calvert Hall finished #1 in the country, while Dunbar finished #2.
Coles was named to both the Sun’s All-Met first team and the All-BCL first team, after averaging 20.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Brown had an outstanding sophomore season before being suspended, averaging 17.2 points per game. Burgess and Littles were both performing well to before their departure, with Burgess averaging 8.9 points, a team-leading 10.2 rebounds, and three blocked shots per game, and Littles averaging 12.6 points per game, third best for the Crusaders. Johnson was an emerging star, as witnessed in the DeMatha loss.
The 81-82 season will always be remembered in Baltimore, in more ways than one, and despite all of the success the 27 win Crusaders had, the memory may lead one to wonder what might have been.
- Coles played for four seasons under Dom Perno at UConn, starting his last three years at the power forward position. After averaging 5.3 points and 5.0 rebounds off of the bench as a freshman, Coles started in all 28 games as a sophomore, averaging 8.8 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game. Coles averaged 9.8 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds as a junior, before the two year captain produced 13.1 points and a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game in his senior season, which ranked third in the Big East, shooting 52.3% from the field. Over his four years at UConn, Coles scored 1,016 points and 804 rebounds, shooting 50.3% from the floor.
- Burgess played two seasons at Virginia Tech, playing in 51 games. In his sophomore season with the Hokies, Burgess averaged 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
42 ‘94 Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders (26-8) Coach Ray Mullis > #5 in the Sun, BCL regular season and tournament champions, Bullis Prep runner-up, Alhambra 7th 1-2
Steve Wojciechowski 5’11 SR; McDonald’s All-American, BCL POY, All-Met 1st, BCL Tournament MVP, All-ACIT 1st, 19.1p/6.5a/4.5s/4.0r (Duke)
Jerard Rucker 6’3 SR; All-Met 2nd, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament (Morgan State)
Josh Davalli 6’5 SO; All-BCL Tournament (Towson)
Kevin Dukes 5’9 SR
Ryan Beaumont 6’2 SR
The Crusaders of Cardinal Gibbons entered the ‘93-94 season having come off of a season where they finished with a non-winning league record for just the second time in twelve seasons, after going 7-7 in league play, and 19-14 overall. Over those twelve seasons, the Crusaders had won 25 or more games in a season eight times, won the BCL regular season crown four times, finished second three times, third twice, and won three tournament championships. Sixth place and 7-7 wouldn’t do.
The Crusaders had been a powerhouse for twenty years, from the days of Norman Black and Bob Valderas in the mid-70s, through the late 70s, with Quinton Dailey, to the ‘82 and ‘85 teams, who were ranked among the nation’s best for most of those seasons.
Mullis always had a talented senior guard on his ‘74, ‘79, and ‘83 championship teams that won both regular season and tournament crowns, in Damian Maggio, Dailey, and Marty Johnson, respectively. He had stars like Black and Valderas both go on to play at St Joseph’s, Dailey go to be an All-American at San Francisco and become the 7th overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft, Tim Coles go to Connecticut and start three years in the Big East, Johnson star at Towson, and Leon Dickerson, leader of the ‘88 Crusaders team that swept both the league regular season and tournament crowns, start three years at Holy Cross.
In ‘93-94, Mullis had his senior star in Duke commit Steve Wojciechowski, a 5’11 point guard, who would be expected to be the Crusaders top scorer.
During the late 80s, parity had set in on the BCL. Following a ten season period where the regular season champion won the tournament nine of ten times, the league saw a non-one seed win the tournament five years in a row from ‘89 through ‘93. After an eleven year period where the BCL’s top Baltimore area team ranked among the top two in the Baltimore Sun’s final rankings, the league hadn’t had an area private rank among the top two in eight seasons, and had just one rank among the top three.
The Crusaders figured to be in the league mix with ‘Wojo’ leading the way, and senior Jerard Rucker serving as a versatile forward, and senior Kevin Dukes serving as ‘Wojo’s’ backcourt mate. Calvert Hall had junior forward John McKay, and St Maria Goretti looked to be a contender, led by ‘super soph’ Phil Lane.
St Frances was introducing the most highly heralded freshman the league had seen since 1980, when Duane Farrell first donned the Calvert Hall uniform. His name was Mark Karcher, who already had the size of most high school forwards, and an offensive game that surpassed the vast majority of them.
After 22 years as one of the six charter members of the BCL, Archbishop Curley left the league, leaving it a seven team league, consisting of the five remaining original members – Calvert Hall, Cardinal Gibbons, Loyola, Mt St Joe, and Towson Catholic, and the two newer members, St Maria Goretti and St Frances.
The Crusaders lost their opener to DeMatha, 89-76, after fading down the stretch. The Crusaders, who trailed by two at both halftime and after three quarters, were led by Wojciechowski’s 24 points in the loss. Rucker added 21 points. The Crusaders went on to win the Babe Ruth Classic at Spalding, crushing the Cavaliers in the championship, 95-30.
The Crusaders followed with wins over Bishop McNamara and McDonogh. Wojciechowski poured in 38 points in the 73-64 win over McNamara, hitting 23 of 29 free throws, while Beaumont scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the 61-38 rout of McDonogh, where the Crusaders put together a 22-0 run.
Next, it was the Bullis Prep Christmas tournament, where the Crusaders crushed Pallotti, 104-64, in the opening round, then edged Bishop O’Connell VA, 59-57, in the semifinals, before falling to 11-0 Good Counsel, 85-77, in the final. In an unusual twist, the Crusaders played Good Counsel again the following game, in the opening round of the Falcons holiday tournament, and lost again, 64-52, with Dukes scoring a game-high 20 points.
The Crusaders closed the calendar year with a win over Episcopal VA in the third place game to move to 11-3, with one loss to DeMatha, and the other two to undefeated Good Counsel.
The Crusaders suffered a huge loss when Wojciechowski’s backcourt mate Dukes quit the team over the new year break. Dukes was a two year starter and one of their three best players, along with ‘Wojo’ and Rucker. The Crusaders responded with four straight league wins, including a 81-56 trouncing of St Frances at the University of Baltimore, and a 91-55 rout of St Maria Goretti at home.
Versus St Frances, the Crusaders took a 23-5 lead after one quarter and never looked back. Wojciechowski scored a team-high 24 points, while Rucker added 18 points. Karcher, the talented freshman, scored a season-low nine points. In the 36 point win over Goretti, Rucker recorded 24 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. ‘Wojo’ registered 21 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds, and seven steals.
The Crusaders followed that with a 70-64 win over Calvert Hall, with Wojciechowski scoring 11 of his game-high 31 points in the decisive fourth quarter, snapping the Cardinals eight game winning streak. ‘Wojo’ hit nine of ten free throws in the final stanza. The Crusaders held a ten point lead midway through the third quarter, but the Cards managed to trim their deficit to two, 55-53, after three quarters.
Again in the fourth quarter, the Crusaders built a ten point lead, and again the Cards charged back, to make it 66-62, before ‘Wojo’ hit free throws to seal it. Wojciechowski added six assists and five steals to his 31 points. The Cards came in undefeated in league play.
The Crusaders headed into February with an undefeated league record and 16-4 record overall, before suffering back-to-back league losses to Mt St Joe and St Maria Goretti – their first two league losses. The Crusaders blew a six point fourth quarter lead to Mt St Joe in that 63-60 loss. ‘Wojo’ scored 27 in the loss. The Goretti loss was perplexing, in Hagerstown or not, after the Crusaders had pummeled the Gaels 91-55, just two weeks before.
The Crusaders rebounded, winning their last seven regular season games, including their last six league games to clinch their eighth BCL regular season crown. The Crusaders came back from five points down in the fourth quarter to pull out a 62-59 win over Calvert Hall, with Wojciechowski scoring eight of his team-high 16 points in the final stanza.
Three nights later, the Crusaders overcame a seven point third quarter deficit to post a 60-52 victory over St Frances, with ‘Wojo’ and Rucker sharing team-high scoring honors with 18 points apiece. The Crusaders closed the regular season with a 63-47 victory over River Dell NJ, with Rucker scoring a team-high 18 points.
The Crusaders began their run for their sixth BCL tournament championship title with an 87-47 blowout win over eight seed Curley in the quarterfinals, with Rucker scoring a team-high 19 points and adding seven rebounds, and Wojciechowski registering 15 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
The Crusaders walloped Calvert Hall, 75-51, in the semifinals, using a 20-5 third quarter run to take a 21 point lead. ‘Wojo’ registered 22 points, nine assists, five steals, and four rebounds in the win. Davalli, the sophomore, scored 14 of his 18 points in the third quarter. The Crusaders would face St Frances in the final, following the Panthers 40 point win over Towson Catholic in the semifinals.
The Crusaders produced one of the greatest last minute comebacks in the area’s history in the final, coming back from nine points down with less than two minutes to go to take a 70-66 title game victory.
The Crusaders outscored the Panthers 16-3 in the final 1:50. ‘Wojo’ made a steal that led to a Beaumont bucket to cut the lead to three – then, after Karcher missed the front end of a one-and-one, Davalli drained a three-pointer to tie the game at 66. ‘Wojo’ made another steal on the Panthers ensuing possession that led to a Rucker layup to give the Crusaders the lead for good.
Wojciechowski scored 26 points and was named the tournament’s MVP. Davalli added 17 points, while Karcher scored 18 points for the Panthers. ‘Wojo’, Rucker, Davalli, were all named to the all-tournament team.
The Crusaders finished 7th at the ‘Alhambra’, losing to Philly’s Archbishop Carroll and Father Judge, before beating host Bishop Walsh by 38 points. ‘Wojo’ was named to the all-tournament first team.
Mullis was named both the Baltimore Sun’s Coach of the Year and the Baltimore Catholic League’s Coach of the Year. Mullis finished the season with 611 career wins in his 30th season. The Crusaders finished 26-8, the first season the Crusaders won more than 25 games since the ‘87-88 Crusaders. The Crusaders also became the first BCL top seed to go on to win the league tournament since the ‘87-88 Crusaders. The Crusaders went 3-0 versus both St Frances and Calvert Hall.
Wojciechowski was named the Baltimore Catholic League’s Player of the Year, and was also named to the All-Met first team, after averaging 19.1 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 steals, and 4 rebounds per game. The Duke commit was also named a McDonald’s All-American. Rucker was named to the All-BCL first team and the All-Met second team, averaging 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Davalli appeared to be a future star for the Crusaders.
Despite the loss of Dukes in late December, the Crusaders put together one of the greatest seasons in their storied program’s history.
- Wojciechowski played four years for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, playing in 128 games for the Blue Devils, starting in 88. ‘Wojo’ played in 59 games over his first two seasons, starting in 19, averaging 3.7 points and 2.8 assists per game over those two seasons. In his junior campaign, Wojciechowski averaged 6.9 points, a team-best 5.3 assists, and a team-best 2.5 steals per game. His senior season, ‘Wojo’ averaged 6.9 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game for the 32-4 Blue Devils. Over four years in Durham, ‘Wojo’ scored 687 points, dished out 505 assists, and grabbed 203 steals. As of ‘22, ‘Wojo’ ranks 9th all-time on the Blue Devils career assists list, and 8th on their all-time steals list.
- Rucker played four years at Morgan State, starting all four seasons at guard, playing in 109 games. Rucker scored 663 points, grabbed 255 rebounds, and dished out 168 assists in his four seasons as a Bear.
- Davalli played two seasons at Towson, averaging 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 49 games.
- ‘Wojo’ was one of four Baltimore area players selected to the Capital All-Star team in the 1994 Capital Classic, joining Dunbar’s Rodney Elliott and Norman Nolan, and Southern’s Kevin Simpson.
43 ‘97 Calvert Hall Cardinals (27-8) Coach Mark Armatucci > #4 in the Sun, BCL regular season and tournament runner-up, McCorriston tournament champions, Alhambra 7th 1-2
Juan Dixon 6’3 SR; All-Met 1st, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 2nd, 23.4p/4.5r/3.0a (Maryland, NBA)
Aaron Herbert 5’11 SR; All-Met 1st, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, 14.1p/4.4a (Mount St Marys)
Reggie Bryant 6’3 SO; All-BCL HM (Villanova / Saint Louis)
Gary Williams 6’6 SR
Antoine Peoples 6’2 SR; (Johns Hopkins)
Freddie Biggs 6’2 JR
Delbert Randall 6’4 FR; (St Michaels ME)
Calvert Hall coach Mark Armatucci was on his second tour of duty at the Towson private school as the Cardinals entered the ‘94-95 season, having completed his first season of his second term. The Cardinals finished tied for third in league play in the ‘93-94 season, with a 17-11 record.
It had been more than a decade since Armatucci led the Cards to a mythical national championship following the ‘81-82 season, and the ‘93-94 season was the tenth since Duane Farrell had graduated and took with him the national accolades that accompanied the team in four of five seasons in the first half of the 80s.
Armatucci was lauded as a great recruiter when he built the Calvert Hall program in the late 70s and early 80s, luring Darryle and Paul Edwards, Paul Kinney, Mark Wilson, ‘Pop’ Tubman, and Duane Farrell, among others, to the Catholic school in Towson, and now, he needed another star to elevate the program to where it once was. Enter Juan Dixon.
Dixon was a rising sophomore transferring in for the ‘94-95 season from Lake Clifton. After having won four BCL titles in five seasons from the ‘79-80 season through the ‘83-84 season, the Cardinals had won just one title in the ten seasons since, as Dixon put on a Cardinals uniform.
Dixon joined a trio of senior starters in ‘94-95 – John McKay, Tavar Witherspoon, and Vince Williams, and helped lead the Cardinals to a 26-9 record and a runner-up finish to St Frances in the BCL. The Cardinals and Armatucci produced the best season in the program in eleven seasons.
The following season, with those three seniors gone, Dixon put the Cards on his back to lead them to a 25-8 record and another runner-up finish in the BCL to Mark Karcher and St Frances, who finished #14 in the country. The Cards were the only area team to beat the Panthers in the ‘95-96 season.
Dixon had led the Cardinals to their first back-to-back 25 win seasons since Armatucci’s final two seasons in his first run at Calvert Hall, which culminated in a #6 national ranking in ‘81, and a #1 ranking in ‘82. Armatucci had lifted the program back to life, and he had one more season with the star guard that helped him do it.
Repeating a 25 win season would be difficult, with just one experienced player taller than Dixon at 6’3. The Cardinals boasted 6’7 senior transfer Patrick Ngongba and 6’6 senior Sam Anyan with Dixon in ‘95-96, but they were gone now. The Cards did return 5’11 senior Aaron Herbert, a three-year point guard, 6’2 senior Antoine Peoples, a two year starter, 6’6 senior Greg Williams, the lone big in the rotation, and a rising talent in 6’3 sophomore Reggie Bryant.
Dixon would need to provide some heroics in ‘96-97 if the Cardinals were to secure a third straight 25 win season, advance to a third straight BCL title game, and earn a berth to the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament for the first time in thirteen seasons.
Of course, St Frances were the heavy favorites in the BCL, with Karcher, one of the best players to ever play in the BCL, if not the best, entering his senior season. To add, the 6’5 forward had 6’8 junior Shawn Hampton in the middle. The Panthers achieved their first national top 25 ranking in ‘95-96, and they expected another in ‘96-97. Mt St Joe, with seniors Corey McNeil and Aaron Bowles, looked to be contenders, as did Loyola, with a senior laden experienced group.
After two easy wins to begin the season, the Cardinals put together a pair of impressive wins over a pair of Falcons in the Towson Catholic Tip-Off, stopping the MPSSAA 2A defending state champion Central Falcons, 53-38, and the Washington Catholic league’s Good Counsel Falcons, 56-49. The Cards used a 17-1 run in the first half to mount a 34-10 halftime lead over the defending state champs. Dixon led all scorers with 21 points. Dixon scored 28 points and Herbert recorded 17 points and 10 assists in the win over Good Counsel.
The following weekend brought upon the prestigious Gonzaga DC Classic, a three day brutal slate. First up, Harlem Catholic school power Rice, who held the #1 ranking in the country for a period just several seasons before when Felipe Lopez donned the green and gold. The Raiders handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season, 64-53, taking control in the second half. Dixon scored more than half of the Cardinals points, finishing with 28.
The Cards bounced back with a win over the best public school team in DC, Anacostia, 78-67, as Dixon scored far more than half the Cards total, scoring an all-time tournament record 47 points. Dixon scored 29 points in the second half, where the Cardinals outscored Anacostia, 47-33. The Cardinals handled St Maria Goretti on day three, 57-40, with Dixon scoring 18 of the 93 points he scored in the tournament.
Over the holidays, the Cardinals traveled to Trenton to play in the McCorristin Catholic holiday tournament, and brought back three quality wins. First was a 62-55 win over Harrisburg’s Bishop McDevitt, then a 66-52 win over St Peter’s from Staten Island, followed by a 60-55 win over the host, McCorristin Catholic (renamed Trenton Catholic in 2005). Dixon was named MVP of the tournament, scoring 74 points in three games, including 32 in the win over St Peters, and 27 in the championship game win over McCorristin Catholic.
The Cardinals opened league play with a 60-59 loss to Mt St Joe, playing without Dixon and Bryant for the first half, who both sat for violating team rules. The Cardinals fought back from 17 points down on the back of Dixon, who scored 21 points after intermission, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Dixon scored five straight points to bring the Cards within two, and had a chance for a game-tying three, but it rimmed out, and Williams follow was one point short.
The Cardinals were at full strength for their first meeting with St Frances, and for good reason, as the Panthers were ranked #24 in the country. The Cardinals held a four point halftime lead, and kept a narrow lead through the fourth quarter, when Dixon hit two free throws to give the Cards a 61-57 lead with 37 seconds to play. After the Panthers cut the deficit to two, they fouled Herbert, who missed a front end of a one-and-one, and gave the Panthers a chance to tie or win, but a potential game-tying layup was ruled to come after the time had expired, and the Cards hung on for a 61-59 victory.
The Cardinals were the only area team to beat the Panthers in ‘95-96, and they were the first to beat them in ‘96-97, bouncing them out of the top 25, for the time being. Dixon scored 23 points, while Peoples added 12 points, and Herbert provided 11 points and six assists. Karcher scored 23 points for the Panthers.
The Cardinals followed that win with a 86-69 win over #9 Arundel, with Dixon scoring a team-high 27 points, and Bryant adding 16 points. In the last week in January, the Cards met Loyola for the first time, with both holding just one league loss, and the Cardinals dominated, routing the Dons, 67-41. Dixon scored 20 points, while Herbert, Williams, and Bryant, each supplied 13 points.
That weekend brought the Charm City Challenge, and an opening night contest with five-time state champion Thomas Johnson, who featured Dixon’s future teammate at College Park, Terrence Morris. The Cardinals prevailed, 60-58, as Dixon scored 25 points for the victors, and Morris scored 23 points for the Patriots. The Cardinals lost their third game of the season in the final, losing to St Benedict’s NJ, 66-65. Dixon poured in a game-high 36 points.
The Cardinals then hosted St Frances, in a battle of league co-leaders, and the Panthers evened the two game series with a 63-50 win before a standing-room only crowd at Calvert Hall. The Panthers took a one game lead with four games to play. The Cardinals got even in their own right with Mt St Joe, topping the Gaels 78-65 in their second meeting, with Dixon scoring 20 points, and Bryant adding 17 points.
Going into their league finale with Loyola, the Cardinals remained one game back of St Frances, but found themselves down two games afterward, as the Dons shocked the Cards by going on a 7-0 run in the final 17 seconds, including a game-winning buzzer-beating three-pointer, to steal a 52-50 win.
The Cardinals headed into the post-season with a 24-5 record, and a two seed in the league tournament for a third year in a row.
The Cardinals began their trek to their third straight BCL final with a 75-53 win over Cardinal Gibbons, outscoring the Crusaders 37-20 in the second half. Bryant led four double-digit scorers for the Cardinals with 21 points. The Cards followed that with a commanding 71-47 victory over 22 win Loyola, after building a 16 point halftime lead. Dixon led all scorers with 25 points.
That meant St Frances v Calvert Hall, part three. The Cardinals led 51-50 after three quarters, but after a Panthers score, and the Panthers regaining possession, they held the ball for more than three minutes, before Karcher was fouled and hit two free throws to stretch the lead to three, with 3:02 to play. The Cardinals would cut their deficit to three points once more, 58-55, with less than 30 seconds to play, but fell short in a 61-57 loss. Dixon scored 23 points, but scored just two in the fourth quarter. Herbert added 16 points. Karcher was limited to 14 points. Both Dixon and Herbert were named to the all-tournament team.
The Cardinals won just one of three games at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, losing to Archbishop Carroll of DC, and Archbishop Carroll of Philly, ranked #15 in the country, and defeating the hosts, Bishop Walsh, on day three. Dixon was named to the all-tournament second team.
Armatucci and Dixon led the Cardinals to their first 27 win season since ‘84-84, went to the ‘Alhambra’ for the first time since ‘83-84, and put together three straight 25 win seasons for the first time since the ‘80, ‘81, and ‘82 seasons.
Of the Cardinals 27 wins, 16 came against opponents that finished with 18 or more wins, with ten victories coming against opponents that won 20 games or more. Thomas Johnson went on to win the 3A state title, and Anacostia won the DC public school tournament. The Cardinals finished ranked #5 in the AP state poll, behind St Johns Prospect Hall, undefeated state champion Southwestern, St Frances, and DeMatha, the Cards highest ranking since 1984.
Dixon was named to both the Baltimore Sun All-Met first team and at the All-BCL first team for a second year in a row, after averaging 23.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and three assists per game. Herbert was named to both the All-Met first team and All-BCL first team too, after averaging 14.1 points and 4.4 assists per game. Bryant, the sophomore, was named to the All-BCL honorable mention team.
- Dixon went on to play for four seasons under Gary Williams at Maryland, leading the Terrapins to their first and only national championship in 2002. As a freshman, Dixon made the most of his time, averaging 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.5 steals, in 14.9 minutes per game over 34 games. That team, led by Steve Francis, finished 28-6, after advancing to the ‘Sweet 16’. In his sophomore season, Dixon started all 35 games, averaging a team-high 18.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.7 steals per game for the 25 win Terps, and earned his first of three All-ACC first team selections in his career. Dixon helped lead the Terps to the Final Four in his junior season, averaging a team-high 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and a team-high 2.6 steals per game, shooting 41.1% from beyond the arc, and 86.5% from the line. In the national semifinal loss to Duke, Dixon scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. In the Terps ‘Elite 8’ 87-73 win over Stanford, Dixon scored 17 points, on 7-10 shooting, adding three rebounds, three assists, and three steals. In his senior championship winning season, Dixon averaged 20.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 steals per game, shooting 89.8% from the line. Dixon scored 29 points in both the first and second round wins for the Terps, shooting 56% from the floor, 60% from beyond the arc, and 90% from the line, in those two victories. Dixon scored 27 points in the Terps ‘Elite 8’ win over UConn, then exploded for 33 points in the Terps 97-89 win over Kansas in the semifinal. Dixon scored a game-high 18 points in the national championship victory over Indiana, adding five rebounds, five steals, and three rebounds in the title game victory. Dixon was named the NCAA Tournament’s Mist Outstanding Player. Dixon was named the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Athlete of the Year. Dixon was also named a consensus first team All-American, a year after garnering a second team nod as a junior. In his four seasons in College Park, Dixon finished with 2,269 points, 599 rebounds, 371 assists, and 333 steals, in 141 games. Dixon did not miss a game in his career, and started every one of the Terrapins 97 games over his last three seasons. Dixon was a part of 110 victories with the Terrapins. Dixon is currently the head coach at Coppin State.
- Herbert played four years at Mt St Mary’s for Jim Phelan, playing in 97 games, and starting 54 of 55 games over his last two seasons. In his junior season, Herbert averaged 6.1 points, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 rebounds per game. Herbert led the Mountaineers in assists and was second in scoring in his senior year, averaging 12.4 points, 3.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. Herbert scored 648 points in his time at ‘the Mount’.
- Bryant played two seasons at Villanova, and two seasons at St Louis. Bryant averaged 5.7 points a game as a freshman under Steve Lappas, then 9.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 24.2 minutes per game under Jay Wright as a sophomore. Bryant transferred to St Louis for his last two seasons, and started both seasons for the Billikens. In his junior season, Bryant averaged a team-high 16.4 points per game, adding 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest. In his senior season, Bryant averaged 12.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Bryant scored 1,169 points over his college career.
44 ‘04 Spalding Cavaliers (29-8) Coach Mike Glick > #2 in the Sun, BCL regular season and tournament runner-up, Bullis tournament champions, Alhambra 5th 2-1
Rudy Gay 6’9 SR; McDonald’s All-American, Parade All-American, BCL POY, All-Met 1st, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 1st, 21.2p/9.2r/3.9b (Connecticut, NBA)
Jesse Brooks 5’11 SR; All-BCL 3rd, 6.1 apg (UMES / Cal U PA)
Justin Castleberry 6’1 JR; All-BCL 3rd (Bucknell)
Marquis Sullivan 6’1 JR; All-BCL Tournament (Loyola)
Lawrence Dixon 6’5 JR; (Holy Cross)
As the Spalding Cavaliers entered the ‘03-04 season, the program that was the youngest in the Baltimore Catholic League had become its most consistent. Following its first year in the league, the Cavaliers had won three league tournaments and played in another final in the five seasons since.
From’98-99 through ‘02-03, the Cavaliers posted the best cumulative league record over those five seasons at 56-14, 14 games better than the next two best over that time, Mt St Joe and Towson Catholic.
The Cavaliers fell just short of winning their fourth BCL title in five years after losing to Mt St Joe by a point in the ‘02-03 final, 49-48. The Cavaliers and Gaels looked to be the two best in the league in the ‘03-04 season, with the Cavaliers boasting one of the top seniors in the country in 6’9 Rudy Gay, and the Gaels returning the reigning Baltimore Catholic Player of the Year in 6’7 Will Thomas.
After then coach Tony Martin introduced the Cavaliers to the BCL in the ‘97-98 season, going 17-17 overall and 6-8 in league play, the Cavaliers finished second in the league standings and won the BCL tournament title in their second season in the league, registering a program best 31 wins in a 31-5 season. Martin stepped down following the championship season, and Mike Glick took over the private school program in Severn.
In Glick’s first season, the Cavs won both the regular season crown and the tournament title. In his second season, the Cavs shared the regular season title, and in his third season in ‘01-02, the Cavaliers swept the BCL regular season and tournament titles again, finishing with a 29-7 record.
The ‘02 Cavs team was led by BCL tournament MVP Landy Thompson, a senior, but Glick still had 6’11 senior center Will Bowers, 6’6 senior power forward Gus Derr, and sophomore floor general Jesse Brooks returning. All were great pieces, but Glick needed a star, and found him in 6’7 rising junior Rudy Gay, a transfer from Eastern Tech, a small Baltimore County school known more for their football than their basketball. Gay had just led the Mavericks to their first Final Four appearance in their program’s history, before taking his talents to Severn.
Gay guided the Cavaliers to their fourth BCL title game in five years, before the three-time champions missed several potential game-winning shots in the final seconds before bowing to Mt St Joe in the ‘02-03 final. While Glick would miss the size and talents of 6’11 Bowers and 6’6 Derr, his ‘03-04 roster was as stacked as any other Cavaliers roster that pre-dated it, including the ‘99 and ‘00 teams led by Derrick Snowden, or the ‘02 team led by Thompson, or the ‘03 team that paired Gay with Bowers.
This team didn’t have the size the ‘03 team had, but they did have the talent, headlined by Gay, the UConn commit, and one of the top prospects in the country. Brooks would run the show for a third straight year in Severn, and 6’1 junior guard Marquis Sullivan was an emerging talent. To add, Glick nabbed his second major transfer in as many seasons when rising junior guard Justin Castleberry transferred over from DeMatha. Lawrence Dixon, a 6’5 junior, provided some size to aid Gay.
St Frances, led by senior Darnell Harris, were ranked the highest of the BCL teams in the Sun’s pre-season rankings, at #2 (Walbrook was #1), while Mt St Joe, the defending champs, with Thomas and point guard Brian Johnson, followed at #4, and the Cavaliers came in at #5. McDonogh, a MIAA A contender, was #7, and Cardinal Gibbons, led by a trio of seniors, was #9.
The Cavaliers began the season with a 58-51 victory over #12 Woodlawn, coming back from an eight point third quarter deficit, before going on an 18-5 run to take a 48-43 lead, a lead they’d never surrender. Gay scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, and blocked six shots. Sullivan scored 11 of his 16 points during the pivotal third quarter.
That weekend, it was off to the Bullis Tournament, where the Cavs came away with two wins and a championship trophy. The Cavaliers topped Good Counsel and their star James Gist, 56-49, with Gay leading the way with 23 points, then put away Notre Dame VA, 70-54, in the final, with Gay scoring 22 points.
The Cavaliers added a 31 point victory over St John Prospect Hall, before heading to Myrtle Beach over the holidays to compete in the Beach Ball Classic with a 7-0 record. The Cavs won their opener over Landmark Christian GA, 62-55, with Castleberry and Brooks combining to hit seven of eight free throws in the final minute to seal it. Gay led all scorers with 22 points, adding seven rebounds.
The Cavs suffered their first loss of the season to Edgewater FL, ranked #25 in the country by USA Today, 66-54. Gay was held to 14 points. The Cavs rebounded with a win over Carolina power Dudley, 64-53, with Gay leading all scorers with 26 points, for third place.
The Cavaliers came out of the break with an impressive win over #1 St Frances, 79-67, with Gay producing the best game of his high school career to that point, registering 35 points – including four three-pointers, 12 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots, earning a ‘triple-double’. The Cavs ran out to a 29-14 lead, then shot 9 of 10 from the field in the fourth quarter when the Panthers tried to make a run. Castleberry added 15 points, while Brooks provided seven assists.
The Cavs followed that with a 71-70 double-overtime win over Cardinal Gibbons, overcoming an 11 point first half deficit. The Cavaliers had chances to win in both in regulation and in the first overtime, but didn’t put the Crusaders away until Gay’s final dunk went unanswered in the second extra session. Gay finished with 27 points.
That brought upon the Mayors Academy, where the Cavs took their second loss of the season on opening night, losing to Eleanor Roosevelt and their 6’10 center Jared Gaither, 70-58, with Gay scoring a season-low nine points. Sullivan scored a team-high 23 points.
The Cavs regrouped the following night at the Mayors Academy, posting an impressive 59-49 victory over Lake Clifton. The Cavs found separation in a tight game by scoring on eight straight possessions, late. Gay scored a game-high 21 points.
Next was their first matchup with the now #1 Mt St Joe Gaels, the first of what would be three epic battles, and the first of two regular season overtime games.
The Cavs fell short of the Gaels for a fourth time in two seasons in the 63-58 overtime loss. The Gaels LJ Mack Jr exploded for six three-pointers and a career-high 27 points in the win, and his second of two trifectas in the second overtime gave the Gaels a four point lead.
The Cavs snapped back with an impressive 76-62 win over St John Neumann PA, with Gay scoring 24 points, followed by a 58-54 overtime win over MIAA A contender McDonogh, with Gay pouring in 31 points, and the Eagles star sophomore Dejuan Summers scoring 23 points.
On the eve of February, the Cavs were presented their second meeting with St Frances, and they handled the Panthers again, 75-71. The Cavaliers led by nine points with 25 seconds to play. Gay exploded on the Panthers again, scoring 33 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and blocking three shots.
The Cavs suffered their second league loss two nights later, losing at Cardinal Gibbons, 75-60. The Crusaders used a 22-13 run over the third quarter and first possession of the fourth quarter to take a commanding 12 point lead. Gay finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.
The Cavaliers bounced back with a 49-39 win over McDonogh, who had just came off of a win over #1 Mt St Joe. And did so with Gay missing the last two and a half quarters with an ankle injury. Gay scored eight points, as the Cavs took a 14-8 lead after the first quarter, and left the floor with an 18-11 lead. Castleberry led a team effort with 11 points.
With Gay back, the Cavs looked forward to their second matchup with Mt St Joe, before a packed house in Severn. Incredibly, it’d be the Gaels Mack providing overtime heroics again, getting his hand on a game-winning tip-in with one second to play in overtime to crush the Cavs in extra time for a second time. Gay, who scored a game-high 27 points, had put the Cavs ahead, 75-74, with 30 seconds to play in the extra stanza.
The Cavaliers took a 23-6 record into the post-season, and a two seed in both the MIAA A and BCL tournaments.
The Cavaliers began their bid for their second MIAA A tournament title in three years with a third win over St Frances in the semifinals, 62-59, snapping the Panthers eight game winning streak. The Cavaliers fell behind by 13 points in the first half, cut the deficit to one, then went on a 12-5 run to take a 51-45 lead. Gay scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Cavs took on Cardinal Gibbons in the final, after the Crusaders upset #1 Mt St Joe in the semifinals. The Cavaliers trounced the Crusaders, 64-45, before 2,000 fans at Gilman. The Cavaliers ran out to a 33-12 halftime lead in the blowout win. Gay recorded 29 points, 10 rebounds, six blocked shots, and three steals in the title game victory.
The Cavs began the BCL playoffs with a win over Calvert Hall in the quarterfinals, followed by a fourth win over St Frances in the semifinals, pulling out a 70-68 victory, with Gay hitting a game-winning three-pointer at the top of the key with three seconds remaining. The Panthers led for 29 of 32 minutes. Gay scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, while Sullivan added 19 points.
The Cavs would fall just short of Mt St Joe in the final, losing 36-33 in a very sloppy but high intensity affair, after getting outscored 8-3 in the final minutes. The Cavs shot 3-26 in the second half, and 1-15 from beyond the arc for the game. Gay and Sullivan were named to the all-tournament team.
The Cavaliers went to the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament and won two of three, losing to St Joseph Prep PA, 75-65, in triple overtime, before routing host Bishop Walsh by 45 points, then upsetting DeMatha, 77-70, for fifth place. In his final high school game, Gay recorded 31 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocked shots. Gay was named to the all-tournament first team.
Gay was named a McDonald’s All-American and the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year. The two-time first team All-Met averaged 21.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.9 blocked shots per game. Gay scored 1,181 points in his two seasons in Severn. Both Brooks and Calstleberry were named to the All-BCL third team. Sullivan’s contributions should not go unnoticed.
For Glick, he won his third BCL tournament title in his fifth season with the Cavaliers, and posted a 25 win season for the fourth time in five seasons.
- Gay went on to play at UConn for Jim Calhoun for two seasons before declaring for the 2006 NBA Draft. In his first year in Storrs, Gay was named the Big East Rookie of the Year, averaging 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocked shots, and 1.5 assists for the 23-8 Huskies. Gay led the Huskies to a 30-4 record and an ‘Elite 8’ appearance in his sophomore season, averaging a team-high 15.4 points per game, adding 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.6 blocked shots per game. Gay was named as a consensus Second Team All-American. Gay scored 19 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists, and picked off three steals in the Huskies second round win over Kentucky. Gay produced 20 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals, in the Huskies loss to 11 seed George Mason in the regional final. Gay was selected as the eighth overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Houston Rockets, and was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies shortly thereafter. Gay was named to the NBA All-Rookie 1st team in his first year, averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Gay set a franchise single-season scoring record in his second season, scoring 1,632 points. Gay averaged 20.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game that season. Gay followed that with 18.9/5.5 and 19.6/5.9 averages in seasons three and four in ‘the Grindhouse’. Injuries took portions of seasons five and six in Memphis, but the former Cavalier did produce 19.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 119 games over those two seasons. In season six, Gay averaged 19 points and 6.6 rebounds in the Grizzlies seven game series loss to the Clippers in his first post-season appearance in 2012. Gay was traded to Toronto midway through the following season, where he played parts of two seasons, averaging 19.5 points per game, before moving to Sacramento. Gay averaged 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game in 223 games over three seasons in ‘SacTown’. Gay went on to play for Greg Popovich and the Spurs for four seasons, and averaged 11.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 23 minutes per game over four seasons there. Gay put together ten straight 17 point-plus seasons in a row, from ‘07-08 through ‘16-17. As of the completion of the ‘21-22 season, Gay scored 17,349 points in 16 seasons, grabbed 6,120 rebounds, supplied 2,223 assists, and recorded 1,212 steals.
- Brooks played two seasons at Maryland Eastern Shore, starting in 42 of the 45 games he played. Brooks averaged 9.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game in ‘05-06, then 11.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game in ‘06-07.
- Castleberry played four seasons at Bucknell – coming off the bench for 46 games in his first two seasons, and starting in 52 of the 61 games he played in over his last two years. Castleberry averaged 10.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in his junior year, and 11.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in his senior season. Castleberry scored 843 points in his four years as a Bison.
- Sullivan played for four seasons for Jimmy Patsos at Loyola, playing in 119 games. Sullivan averaged 6.0 points per game as a freshman, before starting 30 of 31 games in his sophomore season, and averaging 13.1 points per game, finishing second in scoring on the team. As a junior, Sullivan averaged 12.2 points per game, again second on the team, then 9.9 points per game in his senior season. Sullivan scored 1,242 points in his four seasons at Loyola, including 281 three-pointers made.
45 ‘14 Calvert Hall Cardinals (29-8) Coach John Bauersfeld > #3 in the Sun, BCL regular season co-champions, BCL tournament runner-up, MIAA A tournament champion, Benedictine tournament champions, Alhambra 6th 1-2
Drew Edwards 6’3 JR; All-Met 1st, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, 14.8p/5.8r/3.0 (Providence / Charlotte)
Nico Clareth 6’4 JR; All-BCL 1st, BCL DPOY, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 2nd, 14.4p/4.3r/2.3a (Siena / Nicholls State)
Evan Phoenix 6’7 JR; All-BCL Tournament, 9.9p/7.2r (Central Connecticut State / Gannon)
Sean Mayberry 6’2 SR; 9.0p/2.4a (Arcadia / Stevenson)
Chris Wallace 6’3 SR; 7.5p/6.3r (Lycoming)
Reggie Rouse 5’10 JR; (St Mary’s MD)
TJ Duckett 6’2 JR; (Lycoming)
The Cardinals and coach John Bauersfeld entered the ‘13-14 season after having suffered through three straight non-winning seasons for the first time in 36 years, and were looking to rebound. If not to the unrealistic early 80s level, at least the ‘09, ‘10 level, when they finished second in league play and won 30 games in the former, or the following year when they finished third, but won the BCL tournament.
In the three seasons since, Mt St Joe, John Carroll, and St Frances, had been the top three teams in the league, with each of the three capturing a regular season crown over the three seasons. John Carroll won the tournament title in their first season in the league in ‘11, and St Joe won back-to-back tournament titles in ‘12 and ‘13, and were looking for a ‘three-peat’ in ‘14.
After winning that title in ‘10, the Cards tied for third in the seven team league and finished with a 15-15 overall record the following year. Then, the next year, with Mt Carmel joining the BCL, the Cardinals finished tied for fourth, finishing with a 12-17 overall record, their worst record in 21 years.
In ‘12-13, the Cardinals dropped to sixth in league play, finishing with a 13-16 overall record. Bauersfeld had a talented but relatively small roster for ‘13-14, with just one player among their top seven taller than 6’4.
The Cardinals strength would be their guards, headlined by juniors Drew Edwards and Nico Clareth, and senior Sean Mayberry. Edwards, 6’3, was a budding star, earning an All-BCL second team selection as a sophomore. Clareth, 6’4, could play ‘the two’ or ‘the three’, and Mayberry provided senior leadership. Much would be expected from 6’7 junior Evan Phoenix in the middle, while 6’3 Chris Wallace would fill a forward position. Juniors Reggie Rouse and TJ Duckett would provide even more talent at guard.
Mt St Joe, the two-time defending BCL tournament champions, would be the favorite, returning Villanova commit Phil Booth, along with seniors Jaylen Adams and Jordan McNeil. Booth was selected as an All-Met and BCL Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, and Adams and McNeil played key roles on the Gaels ‘13 championship team.
St Frances, who had finished among the top two in the standings for seven years straight, would be formidable, with UNLV commit Dwayne Morgan, and sophomores Daquan Bracey and Khalil Richards leading the way. John Carroll, led by junior guard Kimbal Mackenzie, an Ontario transplant, would be another contender.
The Cardinals ran off six straight wins to begin the season, including 58-50 league win over Mt Carmel, a 16 point win over Parkside, DC’s top charter school team, and a 15 point win over McKinley Tech DC.
That led to the first matchup with #1 Mt St Joe, at home. The Cards lost in overtime, after overcoming a six point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime. The Gaels scored the first five points in the extra session, then hit free throws down the stretch to take a 62-57 win. Clareth scored a team-high 20 points, while Edwards added 13 points, and Phoenix added 12 points. The Cardinals held a 22-15 second quarter lead, but the Gaels squared it at 26 by halftime. After falling behind, 44-38, the Cards tied it at 49, with 2:28 remaining, and both went scoreless the rest of the way, forcing overtime. The Gaels nailed all 17 of their free throw attempts.
The Cardinals bounced back with a 70-37 rout of Delone Catholic PA, then added four more victories, including three league wins, before heading into Christmas break with an 11-1 record. In their last game before the break, the Cardinals came back from a seven point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime and eventually top Spalding, 67-66. Phoenix led four double-digit scorers for the Cards with 12 points, and added eight rebounds.
Over the holidays, the Cardinals traveled to Virginia to compete in the legendary Benedictine Classic, for a three game tournament. The Cards trumped St Albans DC, 79-55, in the opening round, then took out the host, Benedictine, 82-69, in the semifinals, with Edwards pouring in 35 points, on 11 of 16 shooting, and Clareth adding 21 points. The Cadets had entered the game with an 11-0 record.
The Cardinals handled Haverford School PA, 65-47, in the final, breaking open a halftime tie with a 45-27 margin after intermission. Clareth led the Cardinals with 23 points, while Edwards added 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.
The Cardinals started the new year with four straight league matchups, including a 75-64 win over John Carroll, with Clareth draining 7 of 11 ‘threes’ and finishing with 27 points. Clareth scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, including three ‘threes’ and two dunks. Mayberry added 16 points, and Duckett added 15 points.
St Frances followed, and the visiting Panthers handed the Cards their second league loss, 74-69. The #4 Panthers snapped the #8 Cardinals 12 game winning streak, and moved one game ahead of the Cards in the league standings. The Panthers star Morgan was limited to just two minutes because of the flu, but Bracey (19 points) and junior Will Robinson (15p/11r) stepped up.
The following weekend, the Cardinals pulled out a 61-60 victory over 15-2 Riverdale Baptist, coming back from eight points down in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were then upset by Glenelg Country, 72-71, after shooting 2–10 from beyond the arc, and 8-20 at the line. Phoenix led the Cardinals with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cardinals rebounded with a huge 69-66 road win at Mt St Joe, turning a nine point third quarter deficit into a 15 point fourth quarter lead, then holding on for dear life. The Cardinals led 60-45, with 4:10 to play, before the Gaels went on a 16-1 run to tie the game with 1:16 remaining. Rouse drained a three-pointer with 53 seconds left in regulation time to put the Cards up by three points, and for good. Edwards led five Cardinals double-digit scorers with 16 points.
The Cardinals won two more league games before taking their third league loss at John Carroll, 47-44, in overtime. The Cardinals fought back to tie the Patriots in regulation, after scoring just one point in the second quarter, and entering intermission with just 12 points. Edwards scored a team- high 19 points.
After wins over St Maria Goretti and Loyola, the Cardinals hosted St Frances in the league finale and needed a victory to claim a share of the league title with Mt St Joe.
Trailing the Panthers by nine points at halftime, the Cardinals used a 15-3 run in the third quarter to propel themselves to a 69-62 win, clinching a share of the regular season crown, and erasing an eight game losing streak to the Panthers. Edwards led all scorers with 21 points, while Wallace and Clareth added 14 and 13 points, respectively. This was the first BCL regular season championship for the Cards, won outright or shared, in 25 years.
The Cardinals fell to St Frances in the MIAA A semifinals, 57-51, after trailing nearly the entire game, leaving only their BCL hopes alive.
The Cards crushed Loyola, 62-33, in the BCL quarterfinals, then avenged their early February loss to John Carroll with a 59-47 win over the Patriots in the semifinals. Phoenix scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the third quarter, where the Cards used an 18-6 run to turn a four point deficit into a eight point lead, 43-35. Clareth added 14 points, and Edwards added 13 points.
A rubber match with Mt St Joe awaited in the final, as the Gaels looked for a ‘three-peat’. The Cardinals lost another overtime game to the Gaels, losing 72-69 after the Gaels Jordan McNeil hit two free throws with less than a second to play in regulation to send the game to overtime. After Edwards nailed a three-pointer to tie it at 69 with 46 seconds remaining in overtime, McNeil responded with an eventual game-winning three on the ensuing possession. Edwards scored 22 points, while Phoenix added 17 points, and Clareth added 13 points. Both Edwards and Clareth were named to the all-tournament team.
The Cardinals finished the season winning just one of three games at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament. On opening night, the Cards fell to DeMatha, 68-60, as the Stags pursued their 22nd ACIT title. After trailing by eight points entering the fourth quarter, the Cardinals would get as close as three points, but never closer. The Cards routed host Bishop Walsh by 39 points on day two, 74-35, before taking their own blow out loss to Mt St Joe in their season finale, 99-66. Clareth was named to the all-tournament second team.
The Cardinals 29 wins were the second highest total for the program in 30 years, and they had advanced to the Alhambra tournament for just the fourth time in 30 years, after going five straight seasons from ‘80-84. Bauersfeld was named the Baltimore Catholic League Coach of the Year for the third time.
Edwards was named to the All-Met first team and the All-BCL first team, after averaging a team-high 14.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and three assists per game. Clareth was named the Baltimore Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year, as well as to the All-BCL first team, after averaging 14.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Phoenix averaged 9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Mayberry added 9.0 points and 2.4 assists per game.
- Bauersfeld went 207-145 (.588) in 11 seasons at Calvert Hall, winning two BCL tournament titles and two BCL regular season crowns. Bauersfeld had three Cardinals teams that won 29 games or more, and had another that went 21-7. Bauersfeld took over from Mark Armatucci, after his second term at Calvert Hall.
- Mayberry played one year at Arcadia, before transferring to Stevenson. As a sophomore, his first with the Mustangs, Mayberry averaged 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists, in 29.5 minutes per game.
46 ‘83 Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders (25-9) Coach Ray Mullis > #2 in the Sun, BCL regular season and tournament champions, Alhambra 3rd 2-1
Marty Johnson 6’2 SR; All-Met 1st, All-BCL 1st, BCL Tournanent MVP, 11.5p/6.3a (Richmond /Towson)
Bryan Simmons 6’6 SR; All-Met 2nd, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 2nd, 14.5p/10.5r
Jim Pearce 6’4 SR; All-BCL 1st, 14.9 ppg
Ron Harper 6’4 JR; All-BCL 2nd, 10.5 ppg
Brion Spriggs 6’5 SR
David Brown 6’3 SO; (Massachusetts)
Jerome Felix N/A SO
The spotlight had never shined any brighter on the Baltimore Catholic League like it had during the ‘81-82 season, when Calvert Hall went 34-0 and won the mythical national championship. Better yet, the Baltimore area became the first region to have the top two ranked teams in the country, as the Dunbar Poets finished at #2.
Not too far behind, and considered by many to be one of the top 25 teams in the country (Basketball Weekly’s national rankings were capped at Top 15) was coach Ray Mullis’ Cardinal Gibbons Crusaders.
Mullis’ Crusaders were coming off a 27-9 season, finishing second to the top team in the country in league play. The Crusaders notched three high quality wins over a trio of DC powers – Archbishop Carroll, Gonzaga, and St Anthony’s, and three quality wins over a trio of Philly private powers – Roman Catholic, LaSalle, and St Joe Prep.
The Crusaders spent time in the national Top 15 in ‘79, during Quinton Dailey’s senior year, and the ‘82 team spent time there too, including the #13 ranking in the ‘81-82 pre-season rankings.
As the ‘82-83 season arrived, Calvert Hall had swept the Baltimore Catholic League regular season and tournament championships three years in a row, winning 35 of 36 games versus league opponents, and finishing with a pair of national top 10 rankings.
But, the season brought change for the Cardinals, when Mark Armatucci left for Loyola College (now Loyola University), and three year stars Mark Wilson, Paul Edwards, and ‘Pop’ Tubman all graduated and were suiting up at the next level. It was a relief to all of the Cardinals opponents, as there hadn’t been a more successful trio in the history of the league.
The Cardinals still had to be considered the favorites, with two year star Duane Farrell, a 6’6 junior, and fellow juniors Vernon Hill and Eddie Oliver returning, after playing key roles off of the bench for the national champions. Farrell had been a force in the league since his freshman season, a freshman season never seen before in the area. The Cardinals new coach Charlie Reif seemed to have the best trio in the league, and the best player.
The Crusaders suffered their losses too, including 6’7 All-Met forward Tim Coles going on to Connecticut, along with 6’8 David Burgess graduating, and Mike Brown, who along with Farrell was one of the best juniors in the greater region, transferring to Dunbar.
Still, Coach Mullis had Marty Johnson, his starting point guard on the ‘81-82 team that won 27 games, and the best floor general in the league. In the middle, the Crusaders had 6’6 Bryan Simmons, one of the best scorers and rebounders returning in the BCL. At forward, the Crusaders had 6’4 senior Jim Pearce, 6’5 senior Brion Spriggs, and 6’3 junior Ron Harper, at the ‘three’. To add, Mullis had a pair of up-and-coming sophomores, David Brown and Jerome Felix.
Mt St Joe could be a tough out with the high scoring David Gately, and Towson Catholic, with senior Marty Stevenson, wouldn’t be a walkover.
Through eleven seasons in the BCL, Mullis had some great teams, headlined by his ‘74 and ‘79 BCL championship teams, his ‘75 and ‘78 teams that fell just short of Loyola, and his ‘82 team, with Coles, Brown, Burgess, Johnson and Co.. Mullis’ ‘74 and ‘79 teams came before, after, and in between a pair of BCL dynasties, with Loyola winning four straight titles following the Crusaders crown in ‘74, and Calvert Hall winning three straight following the Crusaders championship with Quinton Dailey in ‘79.
The question hung as the ‘82-83 season approached, was the Cardinals reign over, or were they going to run four straight like the Dons did on the back half of the 70s?
The Crusaders season began in earnest with a round trip down to greater Greensboro, North Carolina, to take on host Bishop McGuinness, then up through Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, to take on national power Oak Hill. The Crusaders ran away from Bishop McGuinness, 112-79, as Pearce scored a game-high 28 points, and Marty Johnson supplied 19 points and nine assists in the win over the Villians. Then, the following day, the Crusaders put away the vaunted Warriors on their home court.
Next was a date with nationally ranked Archbishop Carroll of DC, in what turned out to be a wild affair. The Crusaders had four starters foul out, and Mullis was ejected, as they watched the Lions shoot 50 free throw attempts. The Crusaders led 16-9 after one quarter, before foul trouble doomed them. Johnson scored 26 points in the 91-81 loss.
The Hornet Classic outside of Norfolk followed, and the Crusaders won two of three, splitting a pair of games with two of the best in the Commonwealth, topping Granby, 71-57, and losing to Lake Taylor. The Crusaders started with a 112-40 trouncing of Norcom VA, where the Crusaders led 91-28 after three quarters. Eleven Crusaders scored six points or more. In the semifinal win over Granby, Simmons scored 16 points, Johnson provided 14 points and nine assists, and Pearce added 14 points.
It was off to the Seneca Valley Holiday Tournament over the break, where the Crusaders topped Walter Johnson in the semifinals, 63-54, with Simmons scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and Harper adding 16 points. The Crusaders fell to Coolidge DC, 70-63, in the final, with Simmons scoring a team-high 24 points in the loss.
The Crusaders went into the new calendar year with an 8-4 record, with high quality wins over Bishop McGuinness, Oak Hill, and Granby, and all four losses coming to out-of-state opponents.
After a league win over Towson Catholic, the Crusaders dropped a tough two point loss to DC power St Anthony’s DC and it’s junior star Wally Lancaster, 57-55. Johnson scored a team-high 19 points in the loss. The Crusaders rebounded, with a win over Mt St Joe, and a 76-59 win over third place Loyola, with Simmons scoring 22 points, Pearce scoring 21 points, and Johnson providing nine assists. The Crusaders lost their first game to an in-state team, albeit a team made up of collegians, when they lost to the Navy plebes, 75-70.
The Crusaders closed January with their first matchup with the three-time defending champion Cardinals of Calvert Hall, and after seeing a 14 point third quarter lead dwindle to three points in the final minute, held on for a 75-72 victory, one that snapped a seven game losing streak to their Towson rivals. Harper and Pearce led five Crusaders double-digit scorers with 19 and 16 points, respectively. Johnson, who scored 10 points, dished out eight assists. Pearce hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give the Crusaders a 75-70 lead.
The Crusaders rolled through the second half of the league schedule earning second game sweeps of both Mt St Joe and Towson Catholic, and taking a second victory over third place Loyola, 72-64. Pearce led the Crusaders with 22 points in the win over the Dons, while Simmons added 17 points, and Ron Harper added 15 points. The Crusaders had thirteen players score in their 29 point rout of the Gaels, and Simmons scored 23 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the 90-68 win over Towson Catholic.
The second matchup with Calvert Hall was the regular season finale, and was moved to UMBC because of the great interest in the showdown. The game was a classic, but not for the Crusaders, who suffered their first league loss on a game-winning shot by the Cards Bobby Graves with one second left in regulation.
The 65-63 loss was also the Crusaders first loss versus an in-state high school team. Pearce scored 21 points in the loss, while Harper added 20 points. The Crusaders came back from an eight point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and tie it, before Graves’ heroics. Farrell scored a game-high 28 points for the Cardinals.
Still, the Crusaders won their fourth BCL regular season crown in ten seasons, finishing a game ahead of the Cardinals at 9-1.
While the Crusaders looked to regroup for the BCL playoffs, the Cardinals were looking for their fourth straight league crown. The Crusaders took out Mt St Joe in the semifinals, 78-62, after running out to a 11 point margin after one quarter. Simmons scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
That set up a third matchup with the Cardinals in the finals. The Crusaders controlled throughout, building a five point halftime lead into a nine point lead after three quarters, and claiming a 69-59 victory over the Cards, ending their three year league reign. Johnson scored 25 points and dished out six assists. Johnson was named the tournament’s MVP, and Simmons joined his fellow classmate on the all-tournament team.
Next, the Metro Classic at the Civic Center, which presented a fourth matchup for the Crusaders versus the top team in the country in a fourteen month span, though this time it was the undefeated Poets of Dunbar awaiting. The Crusaders, like just about everyone else that year, didn’t stand a chance. The Poets trounced the Crusaders, 82-53, led by their All-American forward Reggie Williams, who poured in 37 points.
The Crusaders headed to the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament for the seventh time in ten seasons. The Crusaders topped 31-5 Cathedral of Ontario, 68-62, on day one, led by a balanced attack, with Pearce and Simmons scoring 14 points apiece, and Harper and Johnson each scoring 13 points.
The Crusaders would fall to DeMatha for a fourth time at the ACIT, 65-58, pitting them against another Washington Catholic team, St Johns, for third place. The Crusaders broke open a halftime tie at 37 in the second half and found separation from the Cadets, before taking an 87-77 win and third place in the ACIT. The Crusaders drained 27 of 35 free throw attempts. Simmons led the Crusaders with 20 points, while the sophomore Felix was second in scoring, with 17 points. Both Harper and Brown scored 12 points, while Johnson scored nine points and provided ten assists. Simmons was named to the all-tournament second team.
Johnson was named to the All-Met first team and the All-BCL first team, in addition to being named the BCL tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Johnson was one of five double-digit scorers for the Crusaders, and led the team in assists, with 6.3 per game. Simmons was named to the All-Met second team and the All-BCL first team, after averaging 14.5 points and a team-leading 10.5 rebounds per game. Pearce was named to the All-BCL first team, averaging a team-best 14.7 points per game. Harper was named to the All-BCL second team.
Mullis won his third BCL tournament championship, his fourth regular season title, and produced his fifth 25 win season in ten years. And, again, ended a rival’s multi-year reign.
- Johnson spent two years at Richmond, coming off of the bench in 39 games over two seasons with the Spiders. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Johnson came back home and shined at Towson for his final two years. In his first season as a Tiger, Johnson averaged 14.8 points, 4.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game. In his senior season, Johnson led the Tigers in scoring and assists, averaging 17.6 points and 5 assists per game, adding 4.1 steals and 3.3 rebounds per contest. Johnson averaged 16.2 points and 4.6 assists per game over two seasons with the Tigers.
47 ‘08 St Frances Panthers (28-11) Coach William Wells > #1 in the Sun, BCL tournament champion, regular season runner-up, Alhambra 4th 1-2
Sean Mosley 6’4 SR; Sun POY, BCL Co-POY, BCL Tournament MVP, ACIT MOP, 23.5p/7.5r/3.3a (Maryland)
Anthony Oquendo 6’4 SR; All-BCL 2nd, All-BCL Tournament
RJ Williams 5’9 FR; All-BCL HM (Loyola)
Wayne Sparrow 6’2 SO; All-BCL Tournament (Richmond / UMBC)
Greg Lewis 6’7 FR; (Rutgers)
Dante Holmes 6’2 SO; (Florida Gulf Coast / North Carolina Central)
As Coach William Wells entered his 28th and final season at St Frances in ‘07-08, he had cemented himself as one of most successful coaches to ever coach in the area. As he and his Panthers were entering their twentieth season as part of the Baltimore Catholic League, and as the ‘07-08 season approached, they had proven themselves to be as successful as anyone in their first 19 seasons in the league.
Wells had won five tournament titles since 1990, won five regular season titles, and won more playoff games than any other team in the league since 1990.
But, as the ‘07-08 season approached on the horizon, the Panthers had won just one tournament title in the ten seasons since the ‘97-98 season, and had won just one regular season championship in ten years. Wells and his program did go through a two year lull following their first regular season crown in ‘91, before Mark Karcher set foot on campus. Karcher made a major impact as a freshman, like no one other than Duane Farrell ever had in this area.
Now, in his final season, Wells had senior Sean Mosley returning, the three-year starting guard who had put together freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons, only Farrell and Karcher’s could compare to in BCL lore.
Mosley became the first freshman ever to win the tournament MVP trophy when he led the Panthers to the tournament championship in ‘05, their only BCL title in now what was ten years. Mosley was named to the All-BCL first team as a sophomore and junior, and was projected to be one of the five highest scorers in Maryland boys high school history.
But, both Farrell and Karcher won three tournament championships, and Mosley and the Panthers hadn’t won one since his freshman season. He needed another. No matter how many numbers he produced, he needed a second BCL tournament title to remain in the conversation with Farrell and Karcher, and have the four year impact they both had.
Wells would ride off into the sunset riding the coattails of Mosley, just as he had the last three seasons. The surrounding cast was talented, but Mosley didn’t have someone with the size and skill of a 6’8 Shawn Hampton, like Karcher had his junior and senior seasons. And while Mosley and Anthony Oquendo, a returning 6’4 forward, were seniors, five of the next six rotation players were freshmen and sophomores. RJ Williams was a very talented 5’9 freshman guard, and 6’2 sophomore Wayne Sparrow was more than ready to step into a starting role. Greg Lewis, a 6’7 freshman, would be expected to contribute immediately.
Mt St Joe would be the league favorite, with 6’10 Jalen ‘Stix’ Smith and sophomore star guard Eric Atkins headlining the Gaels cast. Smith was a Maryland commit, and Atkins was receiving attention from coaches across the country. Towson Catholic, the defending undefeated league champion, would surely miss Donté Greene, but with his cousin Brandon Greene and Larry Bastfield returning, the Owls would be a contender, along with the Panthers and Gaels. Cardinal Gibbons, with senior Jamar Briscoe, an All-BCL second team selection as a junior, could beat anyone on a given night, as could Loyola, with junior Matt Rum and senior James Davenport.
Wells final season began with an ominous start, with the Panthers losing a non-league contest with league opponent St Maria Goretti, 62-57. The Panthers followed that loss with three straight wins, the third a 73-44 rout of defending state champion New Town, using a 22-8 third quarter to push an eight point halftime lead to a 22 point lead after three quarters. Mosley led the way with a game-high 27 points. Sophomore Dante Holmes added 17 points.
Two days later, the Panthers lost their second game of the season, losing to the Washington Catholic league’s Paul VI, 57-48. The Panthers came back the next weekend with an impressive 56-47 win over Philadelphia’s Simon Gratz at the Cancer Society Classic in Wheeling, West Virginia. The Panthers extended a one point halftime lead with a 14-3 run in the third quarter and coasted to a nine point win. Mosley (25) and Sparrow (20) combined for 45 of the Panthers 57 points.
After that win, the Panthers posted a win over Owings Mills, a MPSSAA Final Four contender, then avenged their season opening loss to St Maria Goretti, topping the Gaels in Hagerstown, 60-45.
Just before Christmas break, the Panthers hosted Mt St Joe in their first meeting with the Gaels. The Panthers prevailed, 57-51, in a contest whose margin never reached double-digits. Mosley scored a game-high 30 points, hit 12 of his 13 free throws, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Oquendo supplied 12 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Over the holidays, the Panthers traveled to Richmond to compete in the Benedictine Capital Classic, and won just one of three. The Panthers thrashed JR Tucker VA, 83-46, on day one, before losing to 7-1 Miller School of Charlottesville, who had beaten Bullis and McNamara, then suffering a defeat to Springside Chestnut Hill PA, 57-52, for fourth place.
The Panthers went into the new year at 9-4, but had big wins over New Town, Simon Gratz, and Mt St Joe, and of their four losses, three were to out-of-state opponents, and the other they had avenged.
January would be like December. Some ups, some downs, some quality wins, some losses. The Panthers would match their record of 9-4 in December with a 9-4 record in January. The Panthers notched two wins over John Carroll, two over Loyola, and a 60-57 win over Towson Catholic, ending the Owls six game win streak. The Panthers held off the Owls after squandering most of a 16 point fourth quarter lead. Mosley scored 20 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, while Oquendo added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Of the four losses in January, three were the Panthers first three (and only) league losses, and the other was to a tough City College team. One of the three league losses came in the second meeting with Mt St Joe, suffering a 61-51 defeat. The Gaels 6’10 senior Henry Sims, who was held to 12 points in the first meeting, supplied 19 points, six rebounds, and four blocked shots in the second. Mosley led the Panthers in defeat, recording 21 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Following the loss to the Gaels, the Panthers closed the regular season with an eight game win streak, including another victory over third place Towson Catholic, 81-63. The Panthers headed into the post-season with a 24-8 record, and a two seed in both the MIAA A and BCL tournaments, finishing two games behind St Joe in BCL play, at 11-3.
Wells and Mosley would have to look to the BCL tournament to turn their final seasons at St Frances into a magical one, as the Panthers were upset by Towson Catholic in the MIAA A semifinals in overtime, 78-74. The Panthers led by nine points after three quarters, and led by eight points midway through the fourth quarter, before the Owls scraped back to force overtime. Donté Greene scored the first five points for the Owls in the extra session, and the Panthers never recovered. Mosley scored 23 points – 17 coming in the second half, and grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Panthers rebounded with a 57-48 victory over St Maria Goretti in the BCL quarterfinals, as Mosley passed Karcher (2,770) to become the Panthers all-time leading scorer, scoring 21 points in the win to bring his career point total to 2,786. Mosley moved into third place on the state’s all-time scoring list, trailing only former St Maria Goretti star Rodney Monroe (3,047), and former Cardinal Gibbons star Quinton Dailey (2,844).
The Panthers earned another shot at #3 Towson Catholic in the semifinals, three days after the Owls won the MIAA A championship game over Mt St Joe, handing the Gaels just their third loss of the season.
The Panthers and the defending BCL champions battled to a 30-30 tie in the first half, before the Panthers came out of intermission with a 16-4 run, propelling them to a commanding 84-64 win over the Owls. Mosley scored 23 points, while Oquendo added 17, and Sparrow and Williams added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
That set up a title game matchup with 30-3 Mt St Joe, after splitting the two-game series with the Gaels in the regular season. The Gaels were shooting for their fourth BCL tournament championship in six seasons.
The Panthers, trailing 26-23 at half, used a 21-11 third quarter to take control of the game and lead to a 66-61 championship game victory over the Gaels. Mosley put a bookend on the Panthers BCL tournament title he led them to as a freshman in ‘05. Mosley poured in a BCL championship game record 35 points, hitting 15 of 18 free throws, and taking home the tournament MVP trophy three years after winning his first. Oquendo and Sparrow joined Mosley on the all-tournament team.
The Panthers won their opener at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, holding off Roman Catholic PA in overtime, 95-86. Mosley matched his season-high of 35 points he scored in the BCL final, to push the Panthers to the semifinals, where they’d face the top ranked team in the DC area, the 32-1 Gonzaga Eagles. Mosley moved to second on the state’s all-time scoring list, surpassing Dailey. Williams hit six straight free throws in the final 95 seconds of overtime to secure the win.
The underdog Panthers gave the Eagles all they could in the final, before falling short of the Eagles, 68-63. Mosley had tied the score midway through the fourth quarter, and brought the Panthers within two points with 40 seconds remaining, but they couldn’t get any closer. Mosley scored a game-high 32 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. The Panthers fell to Benedictine VA, 64-58, in the third place game, but Mosley was chosen as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, after averaging 29.7 points per game over three games.
Mosley was named the Sun’s Player of the Year, to go with the BCL MVP honor he shared with Sims of Mt St Joe. Mosley finished his four year career at St Frances scoring 2,933 points, trailing only Monroe’s 3,047 points he scored in Hagerstown at St Maria Goretti from the ‘83-84 season through the ‘86-87 season on the state’s all-time scoring list. Mosley averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.
Mosley had all the numbers, but most importantly, he finished an outstanding four year career like Farrell did at Calvert Hall in ‘84, and like Karcher did at St Frances in ‘97, as a BCL tournament champion in his farewell season. Oquendo was selected to the All-BCL second team, and Williams, the freshman, was selected to the league’s honorable mention team.
Wells, for his part, finished his career at St Frances with 516 career wins at the small Catholic school on Baltimore’s ‘Eastside’, and matched former Cardinal Gibbons coach Ray Mullis for the most BCL tournament titles won, with six. Wells shared the BCL’s Ray Mullis Coach of the Year award with Towson Catholic’s Josh Pratt.
Fittingly, the Panthers finished ranked #1 in the area for the first time since Karcher’s senior season in ‘97. It had been 28 years since Wells first guided the Panthers in the ‘CYO’ league, and preceded to take the program to the upper echelon in high school basketball in the greater region and beyond. Wells would put the program in Karcher’s hands again, albeit in a different role than when he left the program in his protégé’s hands just more than a decade before with the ball in his hands.
- Mosley played for four years at Maryland, the first three under Gary Williams, and the last under Mark Turgeon. Mosley played in 132 games for the Terrapins, starting in 108. As a freshman, Mosley averaged 5.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 19.6 minutes per game. Mosley nearly doubled his production in his sophomore season, averaging 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game for the 24-9 Terps. In his junior season, Mosley averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Mosley averaged 10.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steals per game in his senior season. Over four seasons, Mosley recorded 1,103 points, 578 rebounds, 268 assists, and 150 steals.
48 ‘81 Loyola Dons (23-5) Coach Jerry Savage > #5 in the Sun, BCL regular season and tournament runner-up, Benectine tournament champions, Curley tournament champions
Kenny Johnson 6’2 SR; All-Met 3rd, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, 18.1 ppg (Virginia)
Bob Selby 6’4 SR; All-Met HM, All-BCL 2nd, All-BCL Tournament, 17.6 ppg (Loyola)
Jeff Weyer N/A SR; (Western Maryland)
Steve Mutscheller N/A N/A
You win some, you lose some, so it was just a matter of time when Loyola would lose as many as they won. Jerry Savage’s Loyola Dons were coming off of a 14-14 season in ‘79-80, finishing 5-5 in league play, after eight years of of unbridled success. The ‘79-80 season seemed to be an aberration, as the Dons program had established itself as the premier program in what was now considered one of the best private school leagues in the country.
Through the first eight years of the BCL, from ‘71-72 through the ‘78-79 season, the Dons won five of eight BCL tournament titles, won at least 22 games five times, and had never finished with a losing record, either in league play or overall.
Outside of league champion Calvert Hall, who finished 28-3, the ‘79-80 BCL season displayed as much parity as ever, with the Dons and three others tied for second place in league play with a 5-5 record.
The Cardinals looked to be even more formidable in the ‘80-81 season, even with the untimely tragic death of starter Paul Kinney just before the season was to start. The Cardinals returned their other four starters – senior Darryle Edwards, and juniors Mark Wilson, ‘Pop’ Tubman, and Paul Edwards, Darryle’s brother.
To add to the surplus of talent, the Cardinals were welcoming one of the most highly heralded freshman in the area’s history in 6’5 Duane Farrell. Not only were they going to be one of the two best teams in the area along with Dunbar, the Cardinals and Poets looked to be two of the best teams in the country.
Mt St Joe, with senior Gene Neiberlein Jr and junior George Young, looked to be a contender, at least for second place, and Cardinal Gibbons presented size and talent, headlined by 6’6 junior Tim Coles.
The Dons would feature a talented, experienced trio in scoring guard Kenny Johnson, 6’4 power forward Bob Selby, and 6’6 center Jeff Wryer, all three-year starting seniors. Johnson had committed to play for Terry Holland at the University of Virginia the following season and play with the top college player in the land, Ralph Sampson. Selby was an effective scorer, and a bull in the paint. Tom Shannon would be a 6’6 bookend to Weyer.
Senior Steve Mutscheller would run the show for the Dons, tasked with getting the ball to Johnson, Selby, and Weyer. The Dons would need that senior leadership, as Coach Savage and the Dons had an ambitious out-of-conference schedule ahead of them, to say nothing of several games against one of the best teams in the country in their own league.
The Dons started with a bang, capturing the fourth annual Curley Invitational Tournament championship in week one, posting an impressive 62-56 win over nationally recognized Flint Hill and their star Carlos Yates, using a 14-0 run in the third quarter to turn a seven point deficit into a seven point lead, and held on. Selby scored a team-high 18 points, while Shannon added 16 points, and Weyer added 14 points.
The Dons faced the host, Curley, in the final, after the Friars upset #6 Aberdeen and their Minnesota commit, Tommy Davis. The Dons handled the Friars, 67-51, outscoring the hosts 24-8 in the third quarter. Johnson scored a game-high 25 points, while Selby added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Next, the Dons held off Gonzaga DC, 46-45, with Johnson scoring 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half.
Over the holidays, the Dons participated in the prestigious Benedictine Capital City Classic in Richmond, and came home with three solid victories. First, the Dons put away Trinity Episcopal VA, 64-46, with Johnson leading the way with 22 points, and Selby and Shannon each adding 14 points apiece.
The following night, the Dons crushed Philly city power Overbrook, 64-44, staking a ten point halftime lead over the Panthers, then extending the margin to 18 points after three quarters. Selby scored 23 points, and Johnson added 15 points. The Dons topped Archbishop Carroll DC in the final, pushing them to a 10-0 record as they headed into the new year, with more than a handful of quality victories behind them.
The Dons took their first loss of the season shortly after the new year rang in, losing to St Francis of Brooklyn, 71-63, after getting outscored 19-8 in the third quarter. The Dons caromed back with a victory over vaunted Christ the King NY, who featured Syracuse commit Wendall Alexis, 62-56. The Dons fought back from 17 points down to claim victory. Johnson and Selby shared game-high scoring honors with 22 points.
The Dons put together four wins after that victory, including an 85-68 win over Sherwood, who was the 4A state champion in ‘79, and a 67-64 win over third place Mt St Joe. The Dons had led the Gaels by nine points with 2:30 to go. Johnson and Selby each scored 25 points in the win over Sherwood, while Shelby scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the second half in the victory over Mt St Joe.
That set up a first meeting between the 15-1 Dons and the 14-1 Cardinals, who had risen among the top 15 ranked teams in the country.
Before 1,100 (and 200 outside) in attendance inside a packed Calvert Hall gymnasium, the Dons and Cardinals put on a great performance, producing a 36-36 halftime tie, and a narrow three point lead by the Cardinals entering the fourth quarter. The Cardinals extended their margin a little more in the fourth, as Selby continued to battle foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with 6:58 left to go in the third quarter. The Dons couldn’t get over the hump and lost, 62-56. Johnson scored a game-high 27 points. The Dons won their second matchup with Mt St Joe, 58-53, for the series sweep, with Selby scoring 18 points and Johnson scoring 17 points.
The Dons faced a late season out-of-conference duel with #3 Annapolis, and took their third loss of the season, 47-46, after blowing a nine point lead entering the fourth quarter, and watching a Panthers game-winning tip-in at the buzzer. The Dons led 46-39, with 1:50 left in regulation.
The Dons were 21-3, heading into their league finale with Calvert Hall, who had risen to #8 in the country. Before a packed gymnasium at Loyola, the Dons held strong through three quarters-plus, holding on to a manageable 54-50 deficit, before the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run and on to a 75-61 win. Selby scored 19 points in the loss, while Johnson added 14 points. The Cards held on to their national top 10 ranking.
The Dons needed a fourth quarter comeback to put away Curley in the BCL semifinals, after the Friars upset Mt St Joe in the first round. The Dons trailed 60-54 with four minutes to go, and 66-62 with just over two minutes to play, before two free throws and a bucket from Johnson, and a go ahead layup by Selby to put the Dons up 68-66. Weyer hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds to secure a 74-68 win. Johnson scored a game-high 27 points, and Selby added 21 points.
It was the 23-4 Dons versus the 25-1 Cardinals in the BCL final. The Dons hung tough for nearly two and a half quarters, before the Cards ran away with a 19 point win. After the Dons cut the margin to 37-32, the Cardinals hit eight of their next ten shots and took a 19 point lead, before securing an 81-62 victory. Selby scored a game-high 28 points.
Selby and Johnson were both named to the all-tournament team, along with the Cardinals’ Mark Wilson and Darryle Edwards, and Cardinal Gibbons’ Tim Coles.
The Dons finished among the top two in the BCL standings for the eighth time in ten seasons, they just didn’t have enough to overcome the Cardinals, who finished ranked #8 in the country.
Aside from the three losses to the Cardinals, the Dons went 23-2, with quality victories over Flint Hill, Gonzaga, Overbrook, Archbishop Carroll, Christ the King, Trinity Episcopal, Sherwood, and sweeps of Mt St Joe, Cardinal Gibbons, Towson Catholic, and Curley.
Johnson was named to both the All-Met first team and the All-BCL first team. Johnson averaged 18.1 points per game, best in the BCL. Barry, who was named to the All-BCL second team and the All-Met honorable mention team, ranked third in the league in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game.
Coach Savage notched 22 wins for the sixth time in ten seasons. Coach Savage’s Dons’ were the most successful program through the first ten seasons of the BCL, with five tournament titles, eight title game appearances, and the best league record through ten seasons, at 72-28, six games ahead of Cardinal Gibbons, who posted the second best record in the league in the first ten years, at 66-34. The Dons were the only league team to not have a losing league record or losing overall record in any season from ‘71-72 through ‘80-81.
- Johnson played four years for Terry Holland at the University of Virginia, the first two with Ralph Sampson, the three-time AP Player of the Year. Johnson played 50 games over four seasons in a backup role for the Cavaliers.
- Selby played two seasons at Loyola, averaging 13.0 and 4.6 rebounds in his freshman season over 27 games, then averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 11 games in his sophomore season.
49 ‘03 Spalding Cavaliers (26-7) Coach Mike Glick > #6 in the Sun, BCL/MIAA regular season co-champions, tournament runner-up, Alhambra 3rd 2-1
Rudy Gay 6’7 JR; All-Met 1st, All-BCL 1st, All-BCL Tournament, 13.9p/7.1r/2.6b (Connecticut, NBA)
Will Bowers 6’11 SR; All-Met 2nd, All-BCL 2nd, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 1st, 13.5p/6.3r/2.3b (Maryland)
Jesse Brooks 5’10 JR; All BCL 2nd, 6.2 apg (UMES / Cal U PA)
Guss Durr 6’6 SR; (Mt St Marys)
Dave Douglas N/A SR
Tim Brackney N/A SR
Matt Latonick N/A SR
As the ‘02-03 season approached, coach Mike Glick and the Spalding Cavaliers were riding high, coming off their third Baltimore Catholic League tournament title in four years, their third straight regular season crown, outright or shared, and produced their third 25 win season in four years.
The four year run began in Tony Martin’s final season at Spalding, and continued in Glick’s first three seasons at the Severn Catholic school. In Glick’s first three years, his Cavaliers won 70 games, including 39 of 49 games versus league opponents.
The ‘01-02 champion Cavaliers were led by senior transfer Landy Thompson, who was voted the league tournament’s outstanding player, and 7’0 junior center Will Bowers, anchoring the middle. Bowers was an All-BCL 1st team selection as a junior, while senior Cory Hudson was selected to the All-BCL 2nd team.
Though Glick and the Cavaliers would miss Thompson and Hudson, Glick had recruited the most highly heralded junior in the area in Rudy Gay, as the 6’7 forward transferred from Eastern Tech after his sophomore season. Gay, together with the Maryland commit Bowers, who would allow him to play on the perimeter, along with junior point guard Jesse Brooks, gave the Cavs a strong core. Gus Derr, a 6’6 senior, would join Gay and Bowers on a front line that went 6’6, 6’8, and 7’0. Tim Brackney, a senior sharp-shooter, fellow senior Dave Douglas, and Matt Latonick, would all be key role players for the Cavs.
The league race projected to be one between the Cavaliers and Mt St Joe, with St Frances re-tooling and seemingly a good pick for third. The Gaels had never won a BCL title, regular season or tournament, in the league’s first 31 seasons, but outside of ‘76, they hadn’t had a team with more expectations. Coach Pat Clatchey had ten years in Irvington, and he was starting to get top talent in the Gaels program. He’d have 6’7 junior Will Thomas, a highly touted forward, junior Keon Lattimore – Ray Lewis’ little brother, and Gaels two-sport star and senior leader, Kyle O’Conner.
Coach William Wells was rebuilding St Frances with some transfers and rising underclassmen, headlined by junior Darnell Harris. St Maria Goretti, the tournament runner-up to the Cavs in ‘01-02, returned senior Derrick Davis, an All-BCL second team selection as a junior.
Glick put together a strong schedule for the Cavs, which included several tournaments and showcases featuring some of the top programs in the country.
The tough slate began with the opener against nationally renowned Archbishop Molloy NY, and the Cavaliers came away with a 56-52 victory over the Stanners, with Gay scoring 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half. Gay added nine rebounds. The Cavaliers followed that with a 52-51 win over St Albans DC, a 50-34 win over reigning BCL finalist St Maria Goretti, then a 53-38 victory over Westlake, an ‘01 state semifinalist.
Next was the Morgan Wootten Invitational at the Comcast Center, and a date with defending 4A state champion Eleanor Roosevelt. The Cavaliers came back from six points down with 1:48 remaining in regulation time to force overtime, then pull out a 56-51 win over the Raiders. Bowers three-pointer from the top of the key with two seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime. Gay led the Cavaliers with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Bowers scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Brooks scored 10 points and dished out six assists.
Before the Christmas break, the Cavaliers would have their first date with Mt St Joe, in a battle of unbeaten teams, with the #1 Cavs standing at 6-0, and the #4 Gaels coming in at 5-0.
The Cavaliers struggled with the Gaels, as Bowers was mired in foul trouble. Still, the Cavaliers came back to cut the deficit to two points in the third quarter, only to see the Gaels go on a 14-4 run, leading to a 60-55 victory. Bowers scored eight of his 12 points in the third quarter, before picking up his fourth foul late in the quarter. Brooks scored a team-high 16 points.
The Cavs headed to the beach over the holidays, to compete in the highly competitive Slam Dunk To The Beach tournament in Lewes, Delaware. The Cavaliers held off 5-1 Georgetown Prep on day one, 45-40, as the Cavaliers came back from seven points down with seven minutes to play, with Bowers scoring 10 of his 16 points in the pivotal fourth quarter.
The following night, the Cavaliers held off Cardinal Dougherty, a Philadelphia Catholic League staple, 51-47, as Glick won his 200th career game. Gay scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Bowers added 13 points. That set up a matchup with nationally ranked St Benedict’s NJ, coached by Danny Hurley, in the tournament final. The Cavs started strong, opening up a 33-25 halftime lead, before falling just short of the Gray Bees, 49-46. The Cavaliers had a potential game-winning tip-in bounce off the rim with six seconds to play. Gay scored a game-high 20 points.
The Cavaliers opened January with a 59-52 loss to St Frances, allowing the Panthers 38 second half points that broke open a 21-21 tie at intermission. Gay scored a team-high 20 points. In between BCL league wins, the Cavaliers topped McDonogh, who was unbeaten in MIAA A play, 57-48, though Bowers didn’t start for the first time since the beginning of his sophomore season. Glick tried to motivate his center, and he did, as Bowers came off the bench to score 13 points, grab eight rebounds, and block three shots. Brackney hit three ‘threes’ and scored 12 points, while Brooks recorded 11 points and five assists.
The Martin Luther King holiday had the Cavaliers travel to Dayton, Ohio, to participate in the Flyin’ To The Hoop NIT. The Cavs were victorious day one, holding off St Lambert’s of Montreal, 61-57, with Bowers registering 22 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks, and Gay recording 17 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. The Cavs lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals, losing to Our Savior American NY, 48-46, after missing both a potential game-tying put-back and a tip-in during the final six seconds. Gay finished with a game-high 20 points.
The Cavs took third place with a win over Heritage Christian from Houston, 68-60, with Bowers scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and hitting 11 of 13 foul shots. Gay added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Brooks added 11 points and six assists.
The Cavaliers came into the second matchup with McDonogh with an 18-4 record, and a game back of the Eagles in the loss column in the combined BCL/MIAA standings. While Gay battled the flu, Bowers stepped up on both ends in a 53-44 win. Bowers scored a team-high 17 points, and helped limit the Eagles to 6-27 shooting in the second half.
The following week, the Cavs had a tough slate, with the second of two meetings with both St Frances and Mt Joe. The Cavaliers, led by Gay, exploded for 46 second half points to take a 74-65 victory over the Panthers, and avenge one of their two league losses. Gay poured in a game-high 33 points, while Douglas scored a season-high 17 points.
The Cavs couldn’t muster anything against the Gaels until it was too late, as the Irvington squad won their 16th straight game in a 63-57 win. The Cavaliers trailed 39-24 after three quarters, before scoring 33 points in the fourth quarter in a comeback effort that fell short. The Gaels connected on 26 of 31 free throw attempts.
The Cavs, Mt St Joe, and McDonogh, all finished 13-3 in the second year (and last) of a combined BCL/MIAA combined tournament, and grabbed a two seed in the tournament, while Mt St Joe, who finished a game ahead of the Cavaliers in the separate BCL standings, took the one seed.
The Cavaliers ran out to a 37-21 lead over Calvert Hall in the third quarter of the BCL quarterfinal game, before holding off a late Cardinals flurry to escape with a 52-46 win. The Cards cut the Cavs lead to four, 51-47, with 30 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get closer. That presented a third matchup with 25-4 McDonogh in the semifinals. The Eagles were 0-2 versus the Cavs, and 25-2 versus everyone else.
The Cavaliers were better again, building a double-digit lead late in the first quarter and holding that until late in the third quarter, before the Eagles cut the count to 49-44 with 1:48 to play. The Eagles never got closer. Bowers scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, and Gay added 12 points, seven rebounds, and five blocked shots. Bowers scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in the fourth quarter.
While the Cavaliers would be playing in their fourth title game in five years, Mt St Joe, the top seed, who had never won the BCL tournament, was playing in just its second championship game in 21 seasons. The Cavs lost a one point thriller, 49-48, after missing five potential game-winning shots, put-backs, and tip-ins in the final six seconds. Bowers scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his final BCL game before 2,700 at Goucher. Gay, who joined Bowers on the all-tournament team, was limited to eight points, but grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Cavaliers fared well at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, winning two of three games and finishing third. The Cavaliers began with a resounding 68-39 victory over DeMatha, dominating the last 22 minutes of the game. After trailing 18-17 with two minutes gone in the second quarter, the Cavs outscored the Stags 51-21 the rest of the way. Bowers scored a team-high 21 points, while Brooks provided eight assists, to go with his 10 points.
The Cavs faced nationally ranked #14 St Peters Prep, considered the tourney’s favorite, in the semifinals. The Hawks, coached by the legendary ‘Speedy’ Morris, the former Roman Catholic and LaSalle University coach, were 27-1 and looking for their first ‘Alhambra’ title.
The two teams put on a classic duel, with the Hawks coming out on top, 54-52, after Brooks’ desperation game-winning three-point attempt was off the mark. Bowers scored a game-high 23 points. The Cavs took the third place game over Judge Memorial (UT), 61-54, with Gay scoring 18 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking five shots. Bowers was named to the all-tournament first team.
Gay was named to both the Sun’s All-Met first team and the All-BCL first team, after averaging 13.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocked shots per game. Bowers was named to the All-Met second team and the All-BCL second team, finishing his Cavaliers career averaging 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.3 blocked shots per game. Brooks, like Gay, a junior, was named to the All-BCL second team, averaging a league-best 6.2 assists per game.
For Glick, who’d be blessed with Gay and Brooks’ presence another year, he notched his third 25 win season over his first four years in Severn, as the ‘02-03 Cavs finished 26-7, which included a dozen wins over opponents that won 20 games or more, and 18 victories over teams that won 17 or more games.
- Glick went 160-79 in his seven seasons at Spalding, winning two BCL tournament championships, and won or shared three BCL regular season crowns. Glicks’s Cavaliers won 25 games or more in four of his seven seasons in Severn, and posted 21 wins or more in five of seven seasons. Glick’s Cavaliers went 10-4 in the BCL post-season tournament over his seven seasons.
50 ‘19 St Maria Goretti Gaels (27-8) Coach Sidney McCray > BCL regular season co-champion, tournament runner-up, Alhambra 3rd 2-1
RJ Blakney 6’6 SR; All-BCL 1st, Washington County POY, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 2nd, 16.4p/5.8r/1.7s (Dayton)
Abdou Tsimbila 6’8 SR; All-BCL 1st, All-County 1st, All-BCL Tournament, All-ACIT 2nd, 10.2p/8.0r/2.9b (Penn State / Fordham)
Przemek Golek 6’4 SR; All-BCL 2nd, All-BCL Tournament (Fairmont State)
Rahsaan Edwards 6’0 SR; (South Carolina State)
Briggs McClain 6’3 JR; (Hartford)
James Searcy 6’3 SR
For 29 seasons, St Maria Goretti was all but an afterthought in the Baltimore Catholic League, more often than not, languishing in the bottom half of the league standings. The Gaels, behind star Rodney Monroe, entered the league by storm, winning the tournament their first full season in the league in ‘85, then sweeping the regular season and tournament titles in ‘86 and ‘87, earning national prominence for the Hagerstown private school.
When Monroe left, so did much of the Gaels newfound prominence – both nationally, and in the BCL. Starting with the first game of the post-Monroe era, in December of ‘87, and going through the ‘15-16 season, the Gaels had finished in the bottom half of the league standings in 20 of the 29 seasons, and finished last or next to last in 14 of those 29 seasons.
After winning three straight tournament titles with Monroe from ‘85-87, the Gaels had gone 1 for 29 since, and after winning back-to-back regular season crowns in Monroe’s junior and senior seasons, the Gaels had shared just one regular season crown (‘01) since.
Cokey Robertson, the Gaels Hall of Fame coach who spent 34 years with the program, stepped down after the ‘08 season, and the Gaels followed with three winless seasons in league play. After those first three magical seasons from’85 through ‘87, the Gaels and Robertson went 122-160 in league play from the time Monroe left and the time Robertson stepped down.
Then, 0-36 in league play from the ‘08-09 season through the ‘10-11 season. Matt Miller came on in the ‘14-15 season and helped turn the program around. Miller helped lead the Gaels to a share of the BCL regular season championship in ‘16-17, and while they were topped by Mount Carmel in the tournament semifinals, their 27-9 overall record was the second best since Monroe and the Gaels went 35-5 in ‘86-87.
The following year, in ‘17-18, the Gaels finished third in league play, at 10-4, and won 30 games for the fourth time in the program’s history. Goretti was on the come-up.
Miller left in May to take an assistant’s job at Mt St Mary’s, after a four year record of 100-42 with the Gaels, and after putting the program on a vertical trajectory. Sidney McCoy, Miller’s top assistant, was named the fifth coach in the program’s history.
McCoy would be blessed with a talented cast in his first season, with 6’5 guard RJ Blakney and 6’8 Abdou Tsimbila headlining the group. Blakney, an exceptional talent, was selected to the All-BCL 2nd team as a junior, and Tsimbila had committed to Penn State in July. Around the two, the Gaels had another pair of talented seniors in 6’4 Przemek Golek and point guard Rahsaan Edwards.
St Frances would be the league favorite, with returning All-BCL first team selection ‘Ace’ Baldwin leading the way, along with junior transfer Jamal West, a 6’6 post from Dunbar, and two-sport star athlete Jordan Toles. Mt St Joe would feature James Bishop, the top scorer in the league, and a LSU commit. Loyola also looked to be a contender, led by 6’8 junior Mitchell Fischer.
The Gaels opened the season with a tough 60-56 win over a talented Boys Latin team, then followed that with a pair of out-of-state victories over Virginia Academy VA and Westtown PA, the latter who featured Maryland commit Jared Nickens.
The Gaels followed that trip with a pair of league wins over Calvert Hall and Loyola to move to 5-0, before a 22 point loss to nationally ranked DeMatha and the Stags two stars, Hunter Dickinson and Justin Moore. The Stags used a 24-8 second quarter to run away from the Gaels.
Then, the Gaels took their first league loss at St Frances, 59-52. After the Gaels held a 21-11 lead early in the second quarter, the #1 Panthers closed the half on a 19-2 run and went into intermission with a 30-23 lead. The Gaels trailed by 12 points after three quarters, before Blakney led a Gaels comeback that cut their deficit to three, 50-47, with 1:48 remaining, but the visitors never came any closer. Blakney finished with 20 points, while Tsimbila added 17 points and eight rebounds. The Gaels rebounded with a 60-49 win over 5-1 McDonogh. Blakney scored a game-high 22 points in the win.
The road didn’t get any easier for the Gaels. A week after taking on the nationally ranked and top ranked team in the area in St Frances, the Gaels faced the nationally ranked, two-time defending state champion Poly Engineers. The Engineers had already beaten St Johns DC, and Lake Clifton, by 20. The two dueled to a 28-28 halftime tie, before the Engineers held a narrow 47-46 lead after three quarters. The Engineers pulled it out in the end, 68-61, but the Gaels made a statement. Blakney scored a team-high 17 points, while Tsimbila and Edwards each added 13 points.
The Gaels went down to the Junior Orange Bowl Classic in the ‘Sunshine State’ before the new year rang in and took home three victories and the tournament championship. The Gaels topped Schoolhouse Prep of Miami on day one, 76-50, then put away 10-1 Palmetto FL, 48-45, in the semifinals. The Gaels handled North Miami, 84-72, in the final, to push to an 11-3 record.
After two wins to begin the year, the Gaels faced 13-2 Mt St Joe, who was undefeated in league play after having beaten then #1 St Frances just before the Christmas break. Goretti took control early, staking a first quarter lead of 17-8, and then built that into a 15 point lead after three quarters, before settling on a 64-53 win. Tsimbila dominated, scoring 20 points, hauling in 16 rebounds, and blocking seven shots. Blakney scored 18 points and provided five assists.
The pair of Gaels – Goretti and St Joe, were now tied for first place at 6-1 in league play, with Goretti boasting a 12-3 record, and St Joe a 13-3 overall record.
After a pair of wins, the Gaels hosted #1 St Frances, who came in at 22-3. The Gaels were sitting pretty in the fourth quarter, up 55-47, before Baldwin and the Panthers closed the game on a 16-3 run to take a 63-58 victory back from Hagerstown. An Edwards bucket cut the Gaels deficit to two points with nine seconds to play, but the Panthers converted their free throws down the stretch. Blakney scored 17 points in the loss, while Tsimbila added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Gaels closed January with three wins, including two versus notable out-of-state opponents. First, the Gaels routed then 15-2 Trinity PA, 73-45, then pounded Broadfording Christian Academy WV, by a near identical 74-45 score. The Gaels opened February with their second meeting with Mt St Joe, with both Gaels trailing St Frances by one game in the loss column in league play.
Outside of a third quarter run by Mt St Joe and it’s star James Bishop, Goretti dominated, boasting a 74-52 victory. Goretti led by 15 points, before Bishop led a rally that cut their deficit to six, only to see Goretti then go on a 21-4 run in the fourth quarter to seal it. Goretti connected on 11 of 19 three-point attempts. Blakney scored a game-high 24 points, shooting nine of ten from the field, while Tsimbila added 14 points and eight rebounds.
The Gaels lost a Western Maryland private power showdown with Bishop Walsh, who featured 6’8 Virginia Tech commit Yavuz Gultekin and 6’9 Olivier Njamhoua. The game featured eight ties and eight lead changes, before the host Spartans posted a 48-40 victory.
The Gaels finished the regular season winning five of six games, which included four contests against non-league opponents. The Gaels only loss came to national top 50 St Stephan’s & St Agnes of Alexandia, before closing the regular season with a 25 point win over a solid Middleburg Academy VA club.
With Mt St Joe handing St Frances their second loss in two meetings in the regular season finale, Goretti shared a BCL regular season crown for just the third time in 30 years. The Gaels would go into the BCL tournament as the two seed, with a 23-6 overall record.
The Gaels trounced John Carroll, 79-53, in the quarterfinals, setting up a third matchup with Mt St Joe in the semifinals. Goretti won a battle of the Gaels a third time, handily, 64-54. Goretti started the game with a 14-0 run, and though the half ended the half in a 29-29 tie, Goretti began the second half with another 14-0 run, and capitalized on that blitz, leading to a ten point win. Blakney held off any St Joe comeback attempt by scoring 12 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter.
Now, a third meeting with the defending champion Panthers of St Frances, who were 36-5 and looking to secure the program’s first top 25 (final) national ranking since 1996.
Like their second matchup with the Panthers, the Gaels held a nice lead late only to see it evaporate, due to ‘Ace’ Baldwin’s heroics again. Much like their second meeting, when the Gaels held an eight point fourth quarter lead, the Gaels held a nine point lead late in the third quarter of their third matchup. Then Baldwin began his flurry, punctuated by a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, to give the Panthers a 71-68 win. Blakney, who scored 17 points in the loss, and Tsimbila, who scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, were both named to the all-tournament team, as was Golek, for his all-around play.
The Gaels won two of three games at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, losing to WCAC runner-up St Johns, 70-58, on day one, before routing St Frances, 66-46, eliminating any national top 25 hopes for the Panthers on day two. The first win in four tries versus the Panthers was convincing, staking a 12-0 lead to begin the game, and holding a 15 point margin at intermission. Blakney led all scorers with 21 points, while Tsimbila hauled in 13 rebounds, to add to his nine points.
On day three, the Gaels avenged their loss to 20 win Bishop Walsh, 59-55, using a 22-8 fourth quarter to overcome a double-digit deficit. Tsimbila scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Blakney scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half. Both Blakney and Tsimbila were named to the all-tournament second team.
Coach McCoy, in his first season, helped lead the Gaels to a share of the BCL regular season league title for just the third time in 32 seasons, and their 12-2 league record was the program’s best league mark since Monroe’s junior season in ‘85-86, when the Gaels went 11-1 in league play, and the program’s second all-time best, ever. The Gaels finished 27-8, and behind Blakney, recorded their third straight season with 27 wins or more.
Blakney, a Fordham commit, was named the Washington County Player of the Year, and was named to the All-BCL first team. Blakney averaged 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. Tsimbila was named to the All-BCL first team, ranking among the top three in the league in both rebounds (8.0) and blocked shots (2.9). Golek was named to the All-BCL second team.
- Through the ‘21-22 season, Blakney had played two seasons at Dayton, starting in 38 of the 52 games he played in for the Flyers. Blakney averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in a pandemic-shortened freshman season. In his sophomore season, Blakney started all 35 games for the Flyers, averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the 24-11 Flyers.
- Tsimbila played his freshman season at Penn State, playing a limited role in 16 games, before transferring to Fordham for his sophomore season. At Fordham, in his sophomore season, Tsimbila started 17 of 31 games and averaged 2.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game.
- As of ‘22, Edwards has played three seasons at South Carolina State, starting in 42 of 45 games during his sophomore and junior seasons. Edwards averaged 9.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game in his junior season, and 8.4 points, 3.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game.
- McClain has played two seasons at Harford, averaging 5.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 29 games in his sophomore season.
- Westtown PA had graduated Mo Bamba and Cam Reddish in the two prior seasons to Nickens senior year.
HS Sports Analyst
Willie, a native of Chicago, and now a resident of Columbia for 40 years, is an educator at Homewood Center in Howard County, after spending 12 years as a real estate agent, following 10 years of running a small men’s retail company. Willie has contributed to Max Preps, Digital Sports, and Varsity Sports Network. Willie has produced MPSSAA top 25 rankings for both football and basketball for 15 years, across various platforms. From a large ‘sports family’, Willie’s brother Mike led Reservoir High to the 3A basketball state title game in 2018, while his nephew Anthony serves as the Indianapolis Colts College Scouting Coordinator.