BALTIMORE, Md. -- Mount Saint Joseph H.S. responded with the poise and execution of a champion on Sunday night, stringing together a 28-10 second half run to dust off Calvert Hall College H.S., 62-41 at the Baltimore Catholic League semifinals.
The undefeated and top-seeded Gaels, who improved to 35-0 with the win, appeared to be cruising as the first half ended. Mt. St. Joe's connected on a trio of baskets at the end of the half to cap a 6-0 burst and take a 29-19 advantage into the intermission.
Momentum quickly shifted to Calvert Hall when the Cardinals opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers, slicing the deficit to 29-25 with 5:43 to play in the third quarter.
The Gaels didn't register their first point in the stanza until senior guard Dejuan Goodwin hit one of two free throws with 4:36 left in the period.
"We did some unintelligent things like not getting out on their shooters," explained Mt. St. Joe's Head Coach Pat Clatchey. "We took control at that point and really defended their top two scorers -- [Russell] Frederick and [Braxton] Dupree."
As the Gaels battened down the hatches on the Cardinal point producers, they began to score in bunches on the other end. They closed the third quarter with a 10-5 splash to take a 39-30 lead.
Diminutive sophomore point guard Justin McCoy was a tremendous sparkplug off the bench for Mt. St. Joseph, especially in the early stages of the fourth quarter. He scored on a drive and picked up a steal within the first 30 seconds of the final period, fanning an 18-5 surge that capped the back end of the fatal 28-10 run.
Every Gael seemed to get a piece of the action, with 6-7 Maryland bound junior forward Dino Gregory (seven points) and 6-5 George Mason bound senior forward Louis Birdsong (13 points) playing key roles.
Birdsong, who was recently named BCL Player of the Year, connected on a pair of midrange jumpers to cap the damaging torrent. His basket with 2:51 remaining yielded a 57-35 Mt. St. Joseph advantage.
"They turned up the heat on us," said Calvert Hall Head Coach Mark Amatucci. "The deserve all the credit and the accolades."
The Cardinals' promising 6-7 1/2, 265 pound junior center, Maryland commitment Braxton Dupree, was held to just 11 points and seemed to tire in the second half. Junior forward Kyle Jarczynski wound up leading Calvert Hall with 12 points.
Dupree gave credit to Gregory and Birdsong for limiting his effectiveness in the second half. The trio actually played together all last spring and summer with the Baltimore Stars AAU program.
"They helped each other out," Dupree said. "They had each other's back and would rotate over to double me in the post, so I had to keep moving around to try and get open."
Mt. St. Joseph will attempt to conclude its perfect season on Tuesday night when the Gaels square off against third-seeded Towson Catholic in the Baltimore Catholic League Final at Loyola College. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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