FROSTBURG — Bishop Walsh coaches Mike Allen and Michael Fields knew what they were up against as early as last week, as Allen had approached one of the coaches of the St. John’s College girls team that was here for the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational for an advanced scouting report on the boys team, which opened the 54th ACIT with a 101-39 victory over the Spartans Thursday at Frostburg State University.
“They said, ‘Get your track shoes,’” Allen said. “But I think we had the wrong spikes on the shoes, because we just weren’t able to keep up with them. They are so fast.”
Fast isn’t the word for it, as it took the Cadets (28-4), the regular-season champion of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, almost nothing flat to establish the pressing, back-and-forth tempo of the game, which, for Bishop Walsh (9-17), played to the tune of 12 first-quarter turnovers and 31 total, most of which were turned into quick transition baskets.
The Cadets’ leading scorer, 6-foot-5 James Palmer, who is headed to the University of Miami, led the Cadets with 19 points, while sophomore guard Anthony Cowan Jr. came off the bench to score 17, with 6-5 Michael Morsell scoring eight of his 12 points in the first half. St. John’s outrebounded the Spartans, 32-22, and committed just four turnovers themselves. They advance to today’s championship semifinal at 7:30 p.m. to play DeMatha, and that’s all that mattered to head coach Sean McAloon.
“It’s special we’re here,” said McAloon, “and we’ll take any win we can get. We were able to rest some guys and see what some others have in case we get into some foul trouble in the later rounds, so there were a lot of positives. We’re happy to move on.”
The Cadets, who finished with 20 steals, forced matters early with man-to-man pressure, at one point scoring on steals on three straight possessions and five out of seven midway through the first quarter. In all, they scored on eight of the 12 turnovers they forced, and when Tre Campbell, who has signed with Georgetown, scored off a steal at 3:24 it was 16-6, St. John’s.
Morsell scored on a drive with 24 seconds left and Cowan Jr. on another drive off a turnover with five seconds left to make it 23-9 after one.
Bishop Walsh got to within 12 points, 27-15, when Isaac Mourier made a nice move inside and then hit from the wing at 5:37 of the second. But Morsell and Cowan Jr. scored bang-bang on drives and James Mitchell knocked down a three to make it 34-16 to launch a 17-0 run before Mourier hit another three-pointer for BW to make it 44-18. The half ended at 51-20.
“We shot the ball well (63 percent),” said McAloon. “We rebounded pretty well. We defended well for the most part, even when the young guys were in to rest the starters.”
Bishop Walsh, which shot 41 percent from the field, was led by Mourier with 15 points and Darius Berry with eight.
“Something like this, 110 percent is all we can ask,” said Allen. “For the most part, other than a little stage fright and then at the beginning of the second half, we got it. And that’s what we expect and demand.”
Bishop Walsh will play today, 4 p.m., against Calvert Hall.