The last time the McDonogh School and No. 3 John Carroll School met on the hardwood, it took added time for the Patriots to pull out a 65-63 overtime win. But on Wednesday, the Bel Air school finished the win in regulation, 58-54, to advance to the MIAA A Conference championship game.
Trailing by as much as 13 just after halftime, the No. 20 Eagles stepped up to outscore the Patriots in the second half and tie the game with five minutes to play, 46-46. But two consecutive free throws by McDonogh’s BJ Andrews to tie the game again two minutes later would fall short of the late John Carroll push.
“We have been in this situation enough that we trusted we would find a way to win,” Patriots coach Tony Martin said. “But, again, there were some situations at the end where we were not able to execute.”
The Patriots were able to execute defensively in the final minutes of the game, forcing bad passes and turnovers to clamber to a 55-51 lead, before performing well enough at the line to survive the Eagles’ last-second fouling efforts.
“We had seniors possibly playing their last game and I knew they were going to fight and claw for everything, but I thought we had opportunities to separate a double-digit lead and get some extension there,” Martin said of the John Carroll first half. “We just didn’t make the right plays and we had some mental mistakes, but we found a way to win.”
John Carroll’s 17-point first quarter was much to the success of senior Ronald Scott, who laced two three-pointers in an 11-point performance, but it was the combined efforts of sophomore Mike Owana and junior Jarred Jones that helped the teams secure its 11-point lead at the half.
Scott led the Patriots in scoring, notching 18 points with first and fourth quarter scoring, while Jones, with an eight-point third, finished the game with 15 points.
The Eagles outscored the Patriots in the second half, 36-29, not enough to earn the upset win, but had John Carroll sweating the game til the final buzzer.
Launching three three-pointers, and scoring 10 points in the third quarter alone, senior Robby Weingart headed the McDonogh scoring with a 17-point night, while teammates Andrews and Kayel Locke were good for 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“I thought that we came out a little tentative, but we really settled down and started playing our game in the second half,” McDonogh coach Donte Evans explained. “We did a good job fighting to get back into the game but just couldn’t get over the hump.”
“We knew we had to stay together and work hard, because, in the end, we though we were the better team,” Patriots senior Malcolm McMillan said of his team in the final minutes, Wednesday. “We had been in that situation many times, so everybody was pretty composed when it came to crunch time.
“We just have to build and learn from the mistakes we made in this game for the next game, which just happens to be the championship.”
McDonogh finished its season 17-10, 7-5 in the conference for a fourth seed in the 2011 tournament. And while it is upsetting for the team to see an end to the year just one win shy of a finals appearance, coach Evans is proud of what his boys accomplished.
“I want to congratulate the kids on the season they had,” Evans said. “A lot of them come back next year, and I want them to remember this feeling so we can put ourselves in a better position next year.”
The Patriots move on to the MIAA A finals to take on St. Frances Academy Sunday at UMBC. John Carroll has beaten St. Frances twice during the regular season, and hope for a sweep for its first conference crown.
“We are going to have some fun on Sunday,” Martin said. “There are a lot of teams that wanted to play in this game, and we are not gong to make it bigger than it is. We are going to go out there, play hard and have some fun.”
Sunday’s championship game begins at 2:00 p.m. This is a change from the original tip time of 3:00 p.m. The doors at UMBC will open at 1:00 p.m. and tickets are $8 each.
John Carroll 58, McDonogh 54
JC 17 12 14 15 — 58
McD 10 8 18 18 — 54