Waiting four years for an opportunity to compete in the Baltimore Catholic League, John Carroll made the most of its first opportunity in the 40-year old circuit, winning the regular season and capping things off with a 57-45 victory over St. Frances, Tuesday evening at Loyola University, to win the 2011 BCL Tournament championship game.
It was a poised effort from a deep, well coached unit, as the Patriots (32-2 overall) led wire-to-wire in downing the Panthers (18-7) for the fourth time in as many meetings this season.
“I think a lot of people are unhappy today. There are a lot of people that did not want to see us come in this league and win,” said John Carroll head coach Tony Martin, who also won a BCL crown in 1999 with Archbishop Spalding. “We asked to be in this league four years ago and we were not invited until two schools closed down.
“We are honored to be in the league,” added Martin. “It’s a wonderful league and I go back to Coach Mullis, and having been part of this way back in the nineties. We’re glad that we’re here and we’re going to compete. Hopefully, everybody gives John Carroll some respect.”
John Carroll scored the first six points of the game and forced the Panthers to chase the entire way. Senior guard Ronald Scott scored 12 fourth quarter points, including an 8-for-8 effort at the free throw line, to finish with a game-high 19 points.
St. Frances trailed by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but battled back within nine on a three-point play by senior star R.J. Williams with 2 minutes, 4 seconds to play. John Carroll, however, responded with buckets from Rodney Elliott (11 points) and Scott, as well as a pair of free throws from tournament Most Valuable Player Malcolm McMillan (12 points) to push the lead to 55-43 and salt away the victory.
“This is a great feeling. We again made history,” said McMillan who had a spectacular two-handed slam, off a feed from Scott, late in the first half.
“We work on it a lot in practice, but after practice me and Ron joke around and throw it up,” said McMillan of his dunk. “We did this in the summer time and we said we were going to do it in the championship game, and we did it.”
As it had most of the year, John Carroll turned to its veteran leadership of Scott, McMillan and junior Jarred Jones. Jones finished with just six points Tuesday, but did an excellent job, along with Owona brothers Mike, Christian and Lionel, in controlling the inside for the Patriots.
“Those three have been veterans. They have been outstanding all year long,” said Martin of his big three. “[I’m] very proud of them, but equally proud of (senior) Alassane Ouedraogo and all our young guys. Just a team effort. We are a team. We don’t have a superstar. That’s no offense to those big three, but we don’t have that big name guy. We have a team.”
Williams, who shared BCL Co-Player of the Year honors with McMillan played a strong contest for St. Frances on his future home court, but he did not get enough help. Senior center Greg Lewis had a better outing against John Carroll than he did in last week’s MIAA title game, but he fouled out once again in the fourth quarter, after scoring nine points.
Williams and Lewis are not yet certain if they have played their final high school game, as the Panthers await word on whether they will receive a bid to the Alhambra Catholic Invitational, which will be played later this month at Frostburg State. John Carroll has already been invited to be part of the eight team field.
In addition to McMillan earning MVP honors, Scott made the All-Tournament team for John Carroll. Williams and Lewis were also named to the squad, along with Cameron Williams of Mount St. Joseph and Justin Beck of Calvert Hall. In addition, St. Joe’s Phil Booth won the tournament Sportsmanship Award.
Baltimore Catholic League Tournament Championship at Loyola University
|St. Frances: T. Costley 6, Brown 6, Lewis 9, A. Costley 3, Williams 14, Forney 3, Tarver 2, Byers 2. Totals: 18 9-16 45.|
|John Carroll: Scott 19, L. Owona 4, McMillan 12, Elliott 8, Stokes 4, M. Owona 4, Jones 6. Totals: 18 19-27 57.|
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