MSJ pulls away to hand Goretti its first loss


James Bishop (left) and Jalen Smith

by Joe Diblasi

Despite key graduation losses from a squad that swept the MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League basketball titles last winter, Mount St. Joseph has returned two dynamic seniors, guard James Bishop and post-man Jalen Smith, one of the top big men in the nation.

Led by that dynamic duo, which combined for 40 points on Friday night, St. Joe pulled away in the fourth quarter and defeated visiting Saint Maria Goretti, 63-49, in BCL action in Irvington. The loss was the first of the year for Goretti.

Goretti carried a 43-41 lead into the fourth quarter in what was a see-saw battle, but Bishop erupted in the 4th stanza with three deep  3’s to break the game open.

The Mount outscored Goretti 22-6 in the fouth quarter  and Bishop finished with 19 points, while Smith netted a team-high 21.

“I was missing some shots in the beginning and I just had to stay up,” said the sharp-shooting Bishop. “My teammates encouraged me and I just had to pick it up. Goretti is a great team, they are fast and they are physical.”

Smith said, “He gives our team energy. Once he starts hitting shots our whole team gets rolling. They were double-teaming me and it left players like Bish open.”

While acknowledging the contribution of Smith and Bishop, Mount St. Joe coach Pat Clatchey had high praise for Tyree Myers.

Goretti’s RJ Blakney led all scores with 21 points.

“He  had 12 points, 6 assists, and seven rebounds on the night,” said Clatchey of Smith’s effort. “His defensive effort along with Kendall McMillan made the difference. Goretti is a very good team.”

Myers and McMillann were able to shutdown Goretti’s high-scoring RJ Blakney in the 4th quarter after he poured in a game-high 23 points numbers for Coach Matt Miller.

“They did a great job of denying the ball and just playing solid on defense,” said Blakney. “They put more pressure on the ball (in the 4th quarter).”

On the big 4th quarter by the Mount, Goretti coach Matt Miller said, “Good players make make plays,

and when they got hot, we were in a drought.

“I told our team after the game that we needed to keep our composure a little bit more, that we need a better shot selection, and we need to execute down the stretch.”

It was the first loss of the season for the Hagerstown Gaels who came in at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the BCL. St. Joe is now 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the BCL.

MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 63, ST. MARIA GORETTI 49

SMG   14  18  11   6     49
MSJ    18  14   9   22    63

SMG – Mack 9, Edwards 5, Mading 4, Golek 6, Blakney 23, Boothe 2.

MSJ – J.Smith 21, Bishop 19, McMillan 3, Myers 12, McDonald 2, Brelsford 4, Marshall 2.