Feb. 22 marks the end of an era at Mount St. Joseph High, as the Gaels’ Baltimore Catholic League tournament quarterfinal game against Loyola Blakefield will be the last high school game played in Memorial Gymnasium as basketball fans have come to know it.
Gaels from Dan Popera to Barry Scroggins to Will Thomas played here, matching up against visitors the caliber of Quintin Dailey, Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay. Completed in 1954 and originally dedicated to the 78 Mount men who died in World War II, the rambling 30,000 square foot gym in 1991 was also dedicated to alumni who served in Korea and Vietnam.
Phase II of the Campaign for Mount St. Joseph, which will cost an estimated $18.5 million, will include the renovation of the existing gym and the construction of what will be a 58,000 square-foot athletic complex. The project is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2014.
I saw my first college game at Memorial Gymnasium, Towson State against the University of Baltimore, in 1967 or ’68. The UB Bees did not have a suitable gym, but they did have a scoring machine in Bunny Wilson, who played with a toothpick in his mouth. I did the same for the next month. In 1969, my St. Rose of Lima eighth-grade team was privileged to compete in the Sweet Sixteen tournament, which the Mount St. Joe community has been staging since 1961, the heyday of CYO athletics. The 53rd annual will be played March 2-4.
On the high school front, the second-seeded Gaels are suddenly favored to win the BCL tournament, after Mount Carmel’s stunning upset of top-seeded St. Frances Academy.
Basketball players from Mount St. Joseph and Loyola Blakefield match up in 1961, the same year the St. Joe community began to host the Sweet Sixteen tournament, which continues to showcase top eighth-grade players.