FROSTBURG — Tevon Saddler got him there, but in the end it was Dayshawn Wells who delivered with a three-pointer with 1:06 left in the game to provide the winning margin in St. Frances’ down-to-the-last-play 66-65 win over Mount St. Joseph in the consolation championship game of the 53rd ACIT Saturday at Frostburg State University.
The meeting between the Panthers (33-6), the Baltimore Catholic League regular-season champion, and the Gaels (31-5), the BCL tournament champion, was the fourth of the season, with St. Frances winning all four.
In the first game of the day, for third place consolation, DeMatha, who entered the tournament as the defending champion, overwhelmed the tournament host school Bishop Walsh, 96-49.
St. Frances 66
Mount St. Joseph’s 65
What the seventh-place game lacked in drama was made up for more than twofold in the fifth-place game, with Saddler, 6-foot-5, 220-pound small forward headed to UNC-Greensboro, scoring 23 points for St. Frances. In the fourth quarter he scored the Panthers’ first eight points in helping them open their largest lead of the game, with his drive and completion of the three-point play at 3:12 making it 63-57.
However, Ohio State-bound guard Kameron Williams, who scored 20 points, hit a pair of free throws and junior guard Phil Booth — 21 points, six rebounds — hit a runner and converted the three-point play and the Gaels trailed by just 63-62 with 1:30 left.
After a Panthers timeout, Wells dropped in what would be the game-winner from the right wing.
“I came off a pick,” said Saddler, “but I was doubled. So I kicked out to Dayshawn and he knocked it in. It was a great shot.”
Mount St. Joe was not finished, though, as Charlie Jones hit his only shot of the game from the left corner to make it 66-65 with 48.3 seconds left.
After a timeout, St. Frances spread the floor and ran clock, but this time Wells missed the three-pointer with Booth getting the rebound with 5.4 seconds left. After a Gaels timeout, MSJ guard Jaylen Adams lifted a runner from the right side of the lane that just fell off the rim at the final buzzer.
“The fans saw a good game,” said Mount St. Joseph head coach Pat Clatchey. “It came down to the last possession. We’ve lost two games here by a combined three points. It’s a fine line between winning and losing (at the ACIT) — tough games, fine competition.”
Wells finished with 10 points for the Panthers, while Dwayne Morgan, 6-8, 210-pound junior who, among others, is considering Maryland and UNLV for his college choice, which he will announce April 5, had his best game of the tournament with 15 points and four rebounds. Maurice White also had 15 for St. Frances.
There were nine lead changes in the game, with the final one coming at 3:24 of the third when a Morgan three-pointer made it 48-46. Eight of those lead changes came in the first half, along with three ties, as Williams was hot for the Gaels with 16 points, with Saddler scoring 15 for the Panthers.
“I felt like this was my last high school game,” said Saddler. “I wasn’t going to leave with anything, so I left it all out there. I put my team on my back in my last game.”
Bishop Walsh 49
DeMatha came at Bishop Walsh in waves, sending all 17 of its players after the Spartans from beginning to end. Linwood Ruffin led the Stags in scoring with 15 points, while Jarius Lyles scored 14 points and had five rebounds. Corey Henson scored 10 as the Stags (14-16) close the books on their first losing season in 10 years.
“It’s been a tough season, obviously,” said DeMatha head coach Mike Jones. “But it’s good to end it with a win. I have a lot of respect for Walsh, and I know what this tournament means so I’m glad to end the season on a right note.
“We hope to see you next year.”
Bishop Walsh, which finished with a 21-10 record with a share of the AMAC and City titles, played hard and well in the ACIT, but on Saturday the Spartans simply had nothing left for the swarming Stags.
“It’s been a great season,” said BW head coach Bob Boyle. “Tonight it was obvious that the legs were gone. Against this competition for three nights in a row, it just caught up to us.
“This by no means is the kind of team DeMatha is used to being, but DeMatha is still DeMatha. But our kids didn’t give up and that’s all I can ask for.”
Center Quincy Redmon concluded his fine play for the weekend with 15 points and eight rebounds. Fellow senior Liam Rhodes scored 13 points. The Spartans also said goodbye to seniors Billy Conroy, Hunter Marrale, Lucas Bruck, Chris Scarlett and Seth Amezcua.
“It’s a sad day to give these boys up,” said Boyle. “They are the reason I’m here. I was asked to coach them and we developed a real bond from that point on.
“I’ve been hard on them at times, but I knew what they had in them and what they could be.
“These are the relationships that you get into coaching for.”
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at email@example.com.