In BCL, these are the good old days

The tendency among greybeards is to glorify the past at the expense of the present, but even those who remember the Baltimore Catholic League at its inception in 1971 acknowledge that the boys’ basketball circuit has enjoyed no better decade than the current one.

“We’ve got a lot of talented players, and a lot of talented teams,” said Pat Clatchey, who, in his 17th season at Mount St. Joseph, is the dean of BCL coaches. “When you watch a game on television, there’s a good chance it’s going to include a kid from Baltimore, if not a kid from the Baltimore Catholic League.”

The outstanding players in the 2002 and 2003 NCAA tournaments were Maryland’s Juan Dixon and Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony, who had prepped at Calvert Hall and Towson Catholic, respectively.

Archbishop Spalding grad Rudy Gay led Connecticut to the No. 1 seed in the 2006 tournament, where the Huskies were eliminated by the greatest Cinderella story in NCAA history, a George Mason team that featured Will Thomas, who played for Clatchey at Mount St. Joseph.

Thomas is playing in Belgium, while Gay is averaging 18.8 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Anthony, who won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics for the U.S. and is averaging 21.8 points for Denver Nuggets, has missed a chunk of this NBA season with a broken hand. Dixon is a reserve for the Washington Wizards.

Donte Greene, who graduated from Towson Catholic in 2007 and set several freshman records during his one season at Syracuse University, is a bit player for the Sacramento Kings. It wasn’t until Feb. 21 that Greene turned 21, however, and the 6-11 wing has vast potential.

Still in school

At the collegiate level, the Atlantic Coast Conference features several BCL grads.

Miami senior Jack McClinton, who graduated from Calvert Hall in 2003, is the third-leading scorer in the ACC, with a 20.3 average. His .479 percentage on three-pointers leads the ACC and stands third in the nation.

McClinton made Miami history last season, when he was the first Hurricane ever voted first-team all-ACC. He was the only player on that all-star group to also be recognized on the ACC’s All-Academic team.

Virginia Tech point guard Malcolm Delaney, a sophomore out of Towson Catholic, is the fifth-leading scorer in the ACC with an 18.6 average. Playing more than 36 minutes a game, he’s the second-most active player in the league.

Sean Mosley, a freshman from St. Frances, had worked his way into the Maryland starting lineup.

The guest speaker at the BCL’s Feb. 16 awards banquet can attest to the depth of the league.

Chris Harney coached St. Mary’s College of Maryland to an historic Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Division III torurnament last season, and the Seahawks are contending again thanks to a rotation that includes Alex Franz, a sophomore point guard from Cardinal Gibbons; Calvin Wise, a senior forward from Calvert Hall; and James Davenport, a freshman guard from Loyola Blakefield.

On the coaching front, Princeton is in its second season under Sydney Johnson. The only three-time captain in Tigers’ history, Johnson was the Most Valuable Player in the 1992 BCL tournament, when he played for Towson Catholic.

This year’s stars

Only three of the top 11 players honored by the BCL this season are seniors.

Eric Atkins, a 6-2 junior guard, was voted Player of the Year, after leading a Mount St. Joseph team that was hit hard by turnover to an unexpected 20-win season.

A starter since his freshman season, Atkins continues to mature physically and has a strong academic background that has made him a prized recruit.

The other members of the all-BCL first team include three seniors, Terrell Vinson of St. Frances, Devin Spencer of Towson Catholic and Matt Rum of Loyola Blakefield, who has accepted a basketball scholarship to William & Mary. The other first-teamers are juniors, Calvert Hall’s Jonathan Graham and Cardinal Gibbons’ Dylan Cormier.

The all-BCL second team consists of five juniors: Ryley Beaumont of Mount St. Joseph; Dante Holmes of St. Frances; Damion Lee of Calvert Hall; Levi Noel of Towson Catholic and Wayne Sparrow of St. Frances.

Calvert Hall’s Donya Jackson was voted Defensive Player of the Year, and the Cardinals’ John Bauersfeld was voted Coach of the Year.

Calvert Hall took the second seed into the 38th annual BCL tournament, behind St. Frances, which was a perfect 14-0 in league play for first-year coach Mark Karcher, regarded by many as the best BCL player ever.

The BCL semifinals will be played Feb. 27 (6:30 p.m. and 8:15), and the championship will be held March 1 (1 p.m.). All games are at Loyola College.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.