Coach Pat Clatchey’s Gaels posted a 77-71 victory in a packed, sold-out gym over a depleted Patriot team that had beat them at the buzzer last February on a three-pointer by Immanuel Quickley.
Clatchey said that result was not mentioned in his team’s preparation, but acknowledged that it “stuck in my craw.”
Quickley, co-BCL Player of the Year as a sophomore, and Mount St. Joe big man Jalen Smith are among the nation’s premier juniors who have not selected a college. Smith led the Gaels with 24 points, and senior Darryl Morsell, who has accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Maryland, had 19.
Sophomore James Bishop had 18 and senior Jaden Robinson had 15 for Mount St. Joseph, which wore down John Carroll. The Gaels had few misses in the first quarter, when they took a 29-21 lead, but needed a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that featured a baseline drive and dunk by the 6-foot-9-inch Smith, who carries a 3.7 grade point average in the classroom.
Mount St. Joe improved to 20-1 overall, its only loss coming at St. Maria Goretti. The depth of the BCL is such that St. Frances Academy has a losing overall record, but beat one of the top teams in Chicago Jan. 14.
“We’ve got seven losses in the last two years, five of them by one point,” Clatchey said. “I tell our guys all the time, you can’t take any days off, you can’t take any plays off.”
Among the coaches keeping tabs on their elite recruits, Calipari coached Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA championship, and Larranaga got upstart George Mason to the 2006 Final Four behind Will Thomas, a Mount St. Joe product.
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