McDonogh School’s boys’ basketball team has gotten off to slow starts in most of its games this season. Thursday evening was no exception as the Eagles faced a double-digit deficit in the first half against Mount Carmel.
The Owings Mills school patiently chipped away and rallied for a 63-58 decision in a MIAA non-division contest and latest installment of the Varsity Sports Network/Fox 45 Game of the Week. Junior center/forward Kayel Locke led all scorers with 24 points for McDonogh (7-3 overall) and pulled down 11 rebounds.
The Eagles overcame a nine-point deficit in the final quarter against Mount Carmel (6-8) to gain some momentum heading into next week’s holiday tournament play. McDonogh coach Donte Evans was happy to see his team win a close decision.
“Our biggest thing all year has been trying to get the kids to come out with a sense of urgency from the start of the game, regardless of who we’re playing,” said Evans. “For some reason, we’ve been up and down with that. Fortunately, we were able to turn it on in the fourth quarter.”
“We weren’t focus and ready to play,” said McDonogh guard Denzel Walker. “It took our coach getting into us at halftime to make us come out with a better effort in the second half.”
Walker, a senior, may have had the defining effort play in the second half. With McDonogh trailing 53-49, Walker went after a loose ball headed towards the sideline. With his momentum taking him out of bounds, Walker got the ball in midair and threw it off a Mount Carmel player, giving McDonogh possession.
The Eagles worked the ball around to Robbie Weingart (10 points) for a three-pointer, closing the deficit to 53-52. After a Mount Carmel turnover, Locke scored inside for the Eagles’ first lead since the opening period at 54-53 with 3 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in regulation.
Locke, who scored 20 points in the second half, converted a three-point play for a 57-55 lead with 2:07 left before Corey Groom got a loose ball and put it back in for the tying score for Mount Carmel. BJ Andrews responded with a basket for McDonogh with 1:34 remaining, followed by a Mount Carmel miss.
With 26.7 seconds left, Walker extended the lead to 61-57 with two free throws before Andrews’ free throws secured victory. Andrews scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half.
“We stepped our defense and started attacking the zone better,” said Andrews.
“We did what we should’ve done in the first half,” said Locke.
The Eagles trailed 30-15 in the second quarter before an 8-0 run helped shaved the gap to 32-23 at halftime. Mount Carmel advanced the lead back to 11 early in the third, but McDonogh crept to within 40-39 after a score by Locke.
The Cougars looked like they weathered the run after Groom’s three-pointer gave the MIAA B squad a 53-44 with under seven minutes left in regulation. Mount Carmel coach Tom Rose said his team became too anxious.
“We gave them the ball two or three straight times with quick shots,” said Rose, whose team was led by Thomas Thornton and Chavez Gee with 14 points each. “They’re [McDonogh] a good team and, eventually, they’re going to get hot.”
Therein lies the problem for McDonogh which returns to action next week at the Sherm Bristow Tournament at Gilman School before MIAA A Conference play the following week. The Eagles have lost close decisions to then-No. 1 City College, Haverford School (PA) in overtime, and Annapolis Area Christian on a 75-foot shot at the buzzer.
“The consistency of showing up and playing for 32 minutes is what we’re trying to get right now,” said Evans. “If we do that, we have a chance to be very good.”
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|McDonogh School 63, Mount Carmel 58|
|Mount Carmel: Gee 14, Groom 5, Yuille 4, Juocapavicius 3, Thorton 14, Todd 6. Totals: 22 9-12 58.|
|McDonogh: Walker 4, Jackson 2, Andrews 15, Hofmeister 8, Weingart 10, Locke 24. Totals: 20 20-25 63.|
|Halftime: Mount Carmel 32, McDonogh 23|