Whitmore’s breakout helps No. 12 Spalding hold off Gilman for first postseason win in years; Mount St. Joseph gets past Pallotti on Crawley’s late free throws (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Archbishop Spalding High boys basketball played its first MIAA A postseason match since 2014 Tuesday evening.
Rudy Gay didn’t miss it. The former Cavalier standout and veteran NBA player was in the stands to watch No. 12 Spalding’s quarterfinal contest against ninth-ranked Gilman School.
Cameron Whitman, wearing the No. 22 uniform sported by Gay during his Spalding days, picked an opportune time to have his finest game. The sophomore scored 34 points as the Cavaliers defeated Gilman, 89-85, at the Finney Center in Roland Park.
The Anne Arundel County squad scored the game’s first 11 points, then withstood several Greyhound runs to advance to the MIAA A final four. Spalding will play at third-ranked Mount St. Joseph, Thursday at 6, for a berth in the league championship Sunday night at APGFCU Arena in Bel Air.
A year after winning six games, Spalding (18-10 overall), with four sophomores in the starting five, are two wins away from its first MIAA A title since 2004.
“I was talking to Herman Brown [Spalding assistant coach] on the bus ride to here and it was very quiet, and I turned to him and said half-jokingly, ‘I think they’re ready,'” said Cavaliers coach Josh Pratt. “You never know, they’re high school kids.”
“Words can’t explain it…this is emotional,” said Spalding point guard Jordan Pennick, who finished with 14 points. “Spalding hasn’t done this in 16 years. We’re the first in 16 years to win a MIAA A playoff, now we’re competing for a championship. It’s crazy to me.”
After the postgame handshakes, Pennick and sophomore backcourt mate Ty Peterson embraced. The Cavaliers never trailed Tuesday, but needed every ounce to gain their first postseason win since 2013 – a 63-53 victory over Mount Carmel in the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament semifinals.
Spalding wasn’t in awe of the postseason spotlight or the greatest player in program’s history watching.
“I didn’t see it coming,” said Whitmore of the fast start. “It was 11-0 and we came out gunning. We just kept up the energy.”
The Cavaliers led 22-7 after a Pennick basket late in the first, but Gilman, also its first postseason match in several seasons, gave its student section hope. The Greyhounds closed to 42-38 at halftime, then 54-51, late in the third quarter.
Whitmore, who was selected to the BCL first team Monday, answered, powering the ball into the basket for a 3-point play. Tyler Clark, a reserve, and sophomore starter CJ Scott, each netted 3-point plays as Spalding pushed its lead back into double digits at 63-53.
It was 80-68 after Whitmore sent the Cavaliers bench into a frenzy with a ferocious one-handed dunk against Gilman’s 6-foot-8 center Roman Hinds. The 6-6 forward hit two 3-pointers and went 14-of-15 from the free throw line.
Pratt said Whitmore is starting to scratch the surface of his immense potential.
“I saw it in the Goretti game with his body language and eye contact with me, he was making suggestions and having good communication and it was the same thing today,” said Pratt. “He helped us finish the game. It’s a tribute to him and all the players.”
“I don’t really care about the buckets I got,” said Whitmore, who netted 17 points in each half. “I just wanted the win.”
Even Whitmore’s highlight dunk couldn’t shake Gilman (17-11), which trailed 85-82 with 42.5 seconds left in regulation after two Winborne free throws. The Greyhounds knocked away the ensuing inbound pass and got possession, but Matthew Cooper’s 3-pointer rimmed out.
Pennick and Scott each hit two free throws to finally put Gilman away. Ty Peterson had 15 points, and Scott added 14.
Winborne, a sophomore, led Gilman with 27 points and senior Jordan Foster finished with 21. After winning five league games last season, the Greyhounds placed first in the MIAA A Black Division, earning their first playoff appearance since 2016.
“We weren’t shooting well, couldn’t find a rhythm defensively, but we didn’t let it be an excuse to let the game get away,” Gilman coach Will Bartz said. “We kept making one play at a time and I couldn’t be more prouder of the leadership and proud of the reaction to adversity.”
The Cavaliers took a group shot with Gay, who’s in his third season (14th overall) with the San Antonio Spurs. Gay was among several former Spalding players in attendance Tuesday evening.
“Everything’s been a learning experience,” said Pratt in his first season as coach after being an assistant under Mike Glick nearly two decades ago. “We’ve missed free throws to lose games and we learned from it. We’ve had good practices and good talks…it’s survive and advance.”
The Cavaliers next plays Mount St. Joseph, which survived St. Vincent Pallotti, 65-63, inside the Smith Center in Southwest Baltimore. Junior guard Ausar Crawley converted two free throws with three seconds left in regulation for the Gaels (25-5).
Crawley, a junior, scored 10 of his 19 points, in the fourth quarter. D’Angelo Stines and George Washington University-bound guard Tyler Brelsord, added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Wayne Jackson, who will play for Loyola University next season, led Pallotti (16-14) with 19 points. The Panthers trailed 51-45 entering the fourth before rallying to tie.
Thursday will be the third meeting between the Gaels and Spalding, which knocked off the then-No. 1 team in the area, 70-58, two weeks ago.
“Mount St. Joseph is going to be ready,” said Pratt. “I told the kids in the locker room everything from here on out has to be earned.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
No. 11 Archbishop Spalding 89, No. 9 Gilman School 85
Spalding – Akers 3, Scott 14, Peterson 15, Wheatley 2, Clark 5, Pennick 14, Turner 2, Whitman 34. Totals 30 23-29 89.
Gilman – Marshall 11, Winborne 27, Cooper 7, Foster 21, Rosenfeld 2, Lane 12, Hinds 6. Totals 28 18-23 85.
Spalding 24 18 21 26 – 89
Gilman 16 22 16 31 – 85
No. 3 Mount St. Joseph 65, St. Vincent Pallotti 63
Pallotti – Walker 9, Blunt 10, Jackson 19, Mouganda 15, Brown 5, Williams 3, Carpenter 2. Totals 24 10-11 63.
Mount St. Joseph – Crawley 19, Brelsford 12, Stines 15, Hamlin 6, Edokpayi 8, Sykes 3. Totals 25 8-13 65.
Pallotti 14 21 10 18 – 63
Mount St. Joseph 24 17 10 14 – 65