Tag Archives: Basketball

In the paint: A look inside the world of athletic recruitment

We all know that when high-level student-athletes get recruited, it can be a stressful and demanding process. Fortunately, two of my friends on the varsity basketball team at Mount St. Joseph High School went through the arduous recruiting process this past summer. In July, senior guard Ace Valentine announced he was committing to UMBC after receiving offers from Loyola (MD), Saint Peters, and the Naval Academy, among others. Meanwhile, at the end of August, senior forward Amani Hansberry announced his commitment to the University of Illinois after a very long process, including an incredible summer playing for Team Durant in the Peach Jam Tournament in Georgia. I talked with both of them to get a real perspective on what it’s like to go through such a challenging and demanding process.

Amani Hansberry being introduced ahead of the MIAA A Conference Championship Game between Mount St. Joseph and Mount Carmel on February 27, 2022, at Harford Community College. He announced his commitment to Illinois in August. Photo Credit: Joey O’Dwyer

Before his big summer playing in the Peach Jam, Hansberry told me his recruitment process was “very heavy,” and then it slowed down a bit. “When my last AAU season started, it kinda picked up a lot,” he said about his status before his last tournament at the AAU level. During the Peach Jam, he received offers from Auburn, Virginia Tech, and Oregon. Out of those schools, only Auburn made his Top 5. “It felt good not having to worry about anything,” he said. “Definitely very blessed, and all the hard work paid off.” When I asked him about what he’s looking forward to about his senior year, he kept it simple, “Just winning. I’m trying to hang two more banners up [MIAA & BCL].”

Ace Valentine kept it real. When he was at the DMV Live Tournament at DeMatha High School in June, he didn’t have any offers. But once the tournament finished, he had eight offers, one of which was from UMBC. “The coaching staff showed me the most love, and I feel like I can thrive there,” he said about his commitment. “I feel like I can step in and play right away.” This season the St. Joe basketball team is playing in high-level tournaments like the ‘Iolani Prep Classic in Hawaii before Christmas and the Hoophall Challenge in Springfield, Massachusetts, in January. Valentine told me that’s what he’s looking forward to the most about his senior season. “Playing a national schedule, that’s what I really want,” he said.

Ace Valentine in a game against Archbishop Spalding last season. He announced he was committing to UMBC this summer. Photo Credit: Jason Kush

For athletes at St. Joe who are attracting interest from schools, I would say to make a decision that you feel is right for you. Make a decision not based on the school but on the fit and how you feel you would do there. Prioritize making every day better than the last. Hansberry said that you need to “stack good days.”

Amani and Ace aren’t the only talented players that Mount St. Joseph basketball head coach Pat Clatchey has sent to the next level. Two notable players were Jalen Smith and Darryl Morsell, who both committed to the University of Maryland one year after each other. Jaylen Adams committed to St. Bonaventure ahead of the 2014-15 season, and Phil Booth committed to Villanova before the 2014-15 season as well. Smith currently plays for the Indiana Pacers, and Morsell received an Exhibit 10 deal with the Utah Jazz. He will join them for training camp and primarily play with their G League Affiliate, the Salt Lake City stars.

Amani Hansberry, Ace Valentine, and Austin Abrams speak after last year’s BCL Championship.

I asked Coach Clatchey how difficult it really is for them to actually make that decision to shape their future. “Many factors go into that decision,” he said. “Education, level of play, opportunity to play, and how far it is from home.” He also mentioned how important it is for schools to have a good reputation for player development in terms of putting players in the pros. He called it “the biggest and most important decision they’ve had to make.”

I hope this article helps St. Joe students understand what this process is like for basketball players like Amani Hansberry and Ace Valentine. Hopefully, if you get recruited, you will pick a place that suits you and has the same goals and ambitions as you do.

Harry Kennedy is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Which major conference teams could clinch an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament?

As the college basketball season moves into conference play, I always look forward to the NCAA Tournament and the different teams that can achieve the ultimate goal of playing for a national championship. Teams earn automatic tournament bids by winning their conference, in which there are 32 across Division 1. I picked eight significant conferences and ranked their top teams by chance to win. I used the track records of each team, judging non-conference and conference records and injuries that could affect their performance against good opponents.

Going in alphabetical order, we will start with the weakest of the five power conferences, the ACC. Over this century, the ACC has cemented itself as one of the best conferences in the country. However, recruits have started to focus more on the NBA, and some of the best college coaches are leaving these historic programs. #7 Duke still holds the top position in the conference, though they are not as dominant as before. Since it is Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, Duke’s motivation level should be high during the postseason. Wins over Gonzaga and Kentucky should help them clinch a top-four seed even if they have a disappointing record. Usually, a storied program—North Carolina or Virginia—has a great chance at upsetting Duke and winning the tournament, but that is not the case this season. Miami, a team with only five NCAA Tournament appearances since 2008, holds a top spot in the ACC. In the past sixteen games, the Hurricanes have only lost four games—including two Florida State by one point—and they put themselves on the map with an upset win over Duke. This surprise team in the ACC has a chance to go undefeated the rest of the season and possibly win the conference tournament. I had a tough time choosing the third team in this conference. North Carolina has a history of making impressive postseason runs, while Virginia’s defense could help them go on a streak. However, the Florida State Seminoles have proven that their best team can beat anybody. A two-game losing streak to terrible Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech teams does not help their résumé, but a win over Duke shows they are legit. I think the eighth-place team in the ACC is better than they have shown, and I think they could find a way to overtake some teams at the top of the conference.

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Coincidentally, the next conference in alphabetical order may be the strongest in the country. Baylor, the second-best team in the conference, should win the regular season and postseason titles. Though they lost to sneaky Alabama, the Bears only have four losses on the season, with two of those to top-ranked teams. Also, they have defeated two ranked teams in #6 Villanova and then #8 Iowa State. The defending national champion has not sat back and should have a great chance at winning back-to-back championships. Next, and the biggest challenger to Baylor, comes the Kansas Jayhawks. Three impressive wins over Michigan State, Texas Tech, and Iowa State almost cancel out their disappointing loss to Kentucky. However, a game like that cannot appear during the postseason. Ochai Agbaji, arguably the best player on Kansas, had a disappointing game, only scoring thirteen points in a season where he is averaging over twenty per game. I will not take it away from Kentucky and their star big Oscar Tshiebwe, who will be a problem for every team they play. The biggest problem Kansas has is finding a consistent big man they can rely on for rebounds, and one can consistently score in double figures. With the third-best chances, and I went back and forth on this one, sits the Texas Tech Red Raiders. I chose Texas Tech partly because of the wins on their résumé and the quality losses they possess. Wins over Tennessee, Kansas, Baylor, and Iowa State combine for an impressive track record against Quad One teams. Also, losses to Gonzaga, Iowa State (by four points), and Kansas (by two points in double overtime) is nothing to be embarrassed about. With five players averaging double digits in scoring, including Oral Roberts transfer Kevin Obanor, Texas Tech is the best challenger to Kansas and Baylor in the Big 12.

Big East basketball. A tough, physical conference with some of the most underrated teams and players in the country. This season may have a similar finish to last season, with Georgetown coming out of the water to win the Big East tournament and make the NCAA Tournament. This season, I have the Providence Friars, my favorite team, with the number one chance to clinch an automatic bid. I started watching them regularly this season, and they are easily the most underrated team in the country. Nate Watson and Ed Croswell dominate inside, while Jared Bynum and Al Durham can create off the dribble. Most haters call them “lucky” because they beat the best teams without their best players and do not defeat bad teams by lengthy margins. Wins over #21 Xavier and #22 Marquette show this team may be Ed Cooley’s best. The Villanova Wildcats, the usual dominator of the Big East, have a weaker team than typical years but have still put themselves in a good position for success. Long-time stars Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels have made Villanova better than they would be. A challenging non-conference schedule with UCLA, Purdue, Tennessee, and Baylor gave the Wildcats four losses moving into Big East play. They have managed an 11-3 record and have yet to play Providence. That game should be fun and show which team holds the upper hand. A tough Marquette Golden Eagles team starring first-year head coach Shaka Smart has been a surprise thus far. After starting 0-3 in the Big East, they rattled off seven straight wins before falling to Providence in a close game. They have managed five top twenty-five wins and an impressive résumé considering their struggles to start the year.

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Next up on the stage comes the Big Ten, a conference similar to the Big East. This conference contains five top-twenty teams, a mark unheard of in many other conferences. I had a hard time picking between these five teams, but Purdue has the number one chance to win the tournament. After a surprising early-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, Purdue’s stars have returned on a collision course. Jaden Ivey, Zach Edey, Trevion Williams, and Sasha Stefanovic have combined for almost sixty points per game. Despite another monstrous non-conference schedule, they have managed only one loss to a ranked team. Two upset losses to Rutgers and Indiana dropped their stock a bit, but that happens when you are the team to beat. Next, I chose the Michigan State Spartans as the team with the second-highest chances to clinch an automatic bid. They have bounced back hard from last year’s First Four loss to UCLA. The Spartans probably should have made the tournament outright, but that was up to the selection committee. Sitting at 17-6 with four losses to top-25 teams, including two top-five teams, and two wins over #22 UCONN and #8 Wisconsin, Michigan State has looked better than some years. A transfer from Marquette two years ago, Joey Hauser has picked up his production, averaging almost ten points per game in twenty-two minutes. With Tom Izzo as the coach, it was practically a no-brainer to put them at number two. Easily the most challenging spot to pick was number three. Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio State all have great talent and the ability to win. I went with the Illinois Fighting Illini, a veteran team with tournament experience. It was a difficult start for the Illini, losing two non-conference games to unranked opponents. However, they have been on a roll since then, winning eleven out of twelve before dropping a couple of games to Purdue and unranked Maryland. However, two ranked wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin placed them right atop the Big Ten standings. Without Ayo Dosunmu, Andre Curbelo and Kofi Cockburn have stepped up to lead Illinois this season.

The Mountain West conference has never been known for its basketball, but this season may change that. This surprise conference has many teams running for the NCAA Tournament, including once-undefeated Colorado State. Spoiler alert: they do appear on this list, but the Boise State Broncos sit first after a 9-1 start to conference play. Since losing two straight games and dropping to 3-4 in November, the Broncos have rattled off fifteen victories in their last sixteen games to hold one of the best records in the country at 18-5. Though their football team usually amasses popularity, they could be the first in program history to win an NCAA Tournament game. Second, and a team I probably would have placed first before conference play began, is the Colorado State Rams. After starting 11-0 with wins over Mississippi State, Creighton, and St. Mary’s, the Rams have lost three games to Mountain West opponents. I am not dropping them too far because the undefeated streak was not a fluke, but they do not deserve the number one spot with their conference record. The third and final team in the Mountain West is the San Diego State Aztecs. Another team known for its football, they are fourth in the conference at 5-3. Of their five losses, two are to ranked opponents—USC and Michigan—and a blowout win over Colorado State may be their most impressive win of the season. Even without an automatic bid, Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them in the tournament. Still, they will have to be impressive down the stretch to maintain that tournament possibility.

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The biggest surprise this year has been the PAC-12 conference without any debate. Outside of UCLA, who made the Final Four last year, nobody in this conference was supposed to make any noise around the country. UCLA has continued their top-five run, with a 17-4 record and the second spot in the PAC-12. Johnny Juzang and Cody Riley, their two stars in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, have continued their rise to stardom, leading the Bruins to a 9-3 conference record. The Bruins have been perfect against top twenty-five opponents, outside of losses to #1 Gonzaga and #4 Arizona, and should set themselves up for a one-seed in the tournament. The Arizona Wildcats may be the most surprising team in the country and one reason why the PAC-12 has garnered a strong outlook this season. After a frustrating loss to UCLA, they bounced back on February 3 to defeat the Bruins by ten. Luckily, after a victory over USC, the Wildcats do not have to play another top twenty-five team in the regular season. At fifth in the PAC-12, the Trojans have not found a way to beat Stanford, losing to them by close margins both times. Their other loss came against the fourth PAC-12 team that Joe Lunardi has in the tournament, the Oregon Ducks. The only problem with their résumé is they do not have a ranked win. They have three upcoming games against Arizona and UCLA and three big chances to grab signature wins.

The SEC has built a potent batch of teams in a football conference now well-known in basketball. Two top-five teams and some intense competition—Tennessee, LSU, Arkansas, among others—give them a massively underrated schedule. Starting at #1 with the #1 team in the country, the Auburn Tigers. Recently rewarded with a lifetime contract, Bruce Pearl has shown that his Final Four run was not a fluke. Though some close wins may hinder their ability to hold onto that number one spot, Bruce Pearl has a chance to lead his squad to another Final Four appearance. The Kentucky Wildcats have managed a massive bounce-back season following a disappointing one that included a losing record and second-round SEC Tournament loss. Sitting 9-2 in the SEC and #5 in the country, they have returned to form and should challenge for a #1 seed. Three of their losses have come to ranked opponents, including Duke and Auburn, and only one other ranked opponent awaits in the regular season. I would not put it past John Calipari to lead his team to another SEC Championship and possibly an NCAA Championship. For the third spot, I decided to go with an underdog candidate. Many teams have an opportunity to finish high in the SEC standings, but the Alabama Crimson Tide could surprise many people down the stretch. Nate Oats’ squad was supposed to be Auburn’s most prominent challenger, but it has not worked out that way this season. Most of their problems lie on the defensive end, with Alabama ranking 316 out of 350 Division I basketball teams. Also, the Tide has the third-highest strength of schedule according to TeamRankings. They rank 6-6 in Quadrant One games, the top quarter of Division One teams, and if they can channel their play from the wins over Gonzaga and Houston, they could be an upset Final Four pick.

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We will look at the strongest mid-major conference this season to end this article. The West Coast Conference has a possibility of four bids into the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga is number one in the conference and could be number one in the country. Like many other top-ten teams, they scheduled a demanding non-conference schedule which included Texas, Duke, Alabama, UCLA, and Texas Tech. Their three stars, Chet Holmgren, Andrew Nembhard, and Drew Timme, have stepped up in the spotlight to lead Gonzaga to one of their best seasons ever. However, they do have competition in the background of their conference. With the similarities in their records and résumés, head-to-head helped me choose the Saint Mary’s Gaels over San Francisco for the number two spot. Usually, they maintain a top twenty-five ranking throughout the season, but they have waited until this week to roll through their opponents. Three non-conference losses to Wisconsin, San Diego State, and Colorado State will not impress the selection committee; however, their solid WCC record puts them in an excellent position for a top-eight seed. With a loss to Saint Mary’s, the San Francisco Dons fall to third on the list in the WCC ranks. They started undefeated through the first ten games but hopped on the struggle bus after losing to Grand Canyon, going 9-5 since that mark. Two-point losses to both BYU and Saint Mary’s show they are competitive but need to get over the hump and win close games to compete for a WCC title.

As always, the NCAA Tournament is unpredictable, and any team could come out and go on a run. The same goes for these conference tournaments; an example came last year when eighth-seeded Georgetown won the Big East Tournament and clinched an automatic bid into the tournament. The coming month will be entertaining, and, hopefully, the 2022 NCAA Tournament will live up to expectations like always.

Alex Kwas is a freshman member of The Quill

Coach Pat Clatchey: A Baltimore basketball legend

Mount St. Joseph High School, where Coach Pat Clatchey has coached for 30 years, is considered a premier basketball program because of the hard work put in by Coach Clatchey, and staff.

Pat Clatchey has been the head basketball coach at Mount Saint Joseph for 30 years. In those 30 years, a lot has changed in the game of basketball, and just coaching in general, and how coaches treat their student-athletes. I have had the pleasure to know coach Clatchey since I was young. I would always attend his basketball camps, and through those camps, we got to know each other. Coach Clatchey in many ways is an old-school Italian coach. He preaches toughness and defense. He also has a great personality and is just entertaining.

Coach Clatchey, in January of 2020, won his 700th game. Clatchey deserves the recognition of being one of the great high school coaches this town has seen, including Bob Wade, Pete Pompay, and William Cain. So I decided to sit down and ask Clatchey some questions to get his take on things that span his career and life. I also got the privilege to ask Clatchey’s Assistant Coach and professional trainer, coach Jordan. I also went to numerous basketball camps and have been able to get to know coach Jordan. Jordan has been a part of the Mount St. Joseph coaching staff for a couple of years now.

Clatchey has seen a lot of change in basketball and the Mount during his time at Saint Joe. From the prominent role the three-point has taken in basketball and the building of the smith center, Clatchey has had to adapt to a lot of changes. When I asked Coach what changed the most since he started coaching, he said, “Well, this is my thirtieth year coaching here; there have been a lot of changes, but I would say the most obvious is going to be the influence of AAU basketball, and probably social media.” Clatchey, to those who know him, is well known for being against AAU basketball. When asked about AAU, Coach said, “It involves more people in the player’s circle than needed.” In my time knowing Clatchey, he would go on long rants about AAU basketball and how it is killing the game. Coach often cites how it is a money grab and not real basketball due to the absence of the team aspect. AAU is like 5 1v1s at the same time.

I asked coach Jordan how AAU and social media have affected his coaching at MSJ and his job as a personal trainer. “My training business with social media helps me promote and reach out to others.” Jordan said, “In terms of basketball, it’s made it harder to recruit. A lot of kids feel now they are superstars…most kids feel like a star, and as a coach, you feel obligated to adjust with what they do. They feel entitled that social media praises them.” Coach Jordan adds this about coach Clatchey, “What the coach says is what the players should listen to, unlike social media.”

Clatchey had also recently been invited to watch a Cleveland Cavaliers practice. With such changes in the sport, I asked Coach if his philosophy had changed in his 30 years of coaching. He said, “As years go by, you know more and different concepts from college coaches and pro coaches, and did you know I spent a lot of time studying coaches in Europe and look to learn and improve and better myself as a coach. So I would say some changed, but some stayed the same.” I asked the same question to coach Jordan, and he said, “I have been around Coach for about 7 years now. He has changed since he started. Of course, when he first started, they weren’t that good…His core values have not changed, but he has changed based on the generation of players because, of course, each generation is different.”

Coach Clatchey has also coached some truly great players. From Jaylen (Stix) Smith to Dino Gregory, he has had some legends on his team. So I asked Coach Clatchey: What player do you think made the biggest leap that you coached? Coach Clatchey commented, “I can throw out a lot of names, and most recently, it would probably have to be Jason Edokpayi his senior year. He was a guy who always had some talent and ability, but he could never be consistent for some reason. Then his senior year, he was outstanding and helped us win the championship, and he put him into a position to get a college scholarship.”

Also, Clatchey has played against some truly great teams, so I asked him: What is the best team you have ever coached against? He said, “Probably the team that in 2006, well we were 32-0 and we lost our last game to DeMatha, and I probably think that was the most talented team that we have played against. Just for the fact that they probably had about ten or eleven Divison I players, and every one of those guys was capable of scoring double figures. Then we played Oak Hill, I think it was around the same time in 2008; they were very good, and I think we lost by 8. In the league, there are a lot of great teams, but those two are probably the best.”

I followed up and asked if he ever coached against Carmelo Anthony and if he was the best player he’s coached against, and he said, “I did…Well, I don’t know about that we beat them by 28 his junior year. He was good. Rudy Gay played in our league and never won a game against us. He was good. We have had some good players and a good team too.”

Clatchey surprised me with a lot of answers, especially on how the game changed. Clatchey has seen a lot of change in his 30 years of coaching. He is a bank of basketball knowledge from leaving the MSA to joining the MIAA and seeing many Hall of Famers caliber players during his time as a coach. All in all, I think there is no more knowledgeable man about the game of basketball in this area. Coach Clatchey is truly a legend!

Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Fall Sports Sets Tone for the Rest of the Year

Our fall sports teams put an air of electricity into school everyday because of the success every team was experiencing.  Four out of the five sports teams were in position to take home championships for their respective sports, with cross country being the only team who can say they met their goal set at the beginning of the season.  Although the other teams experienced losses, their dominance in the regular season has set the tone for the athletic attitude for the rest of the year.

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Senior Joey Clark in the rain against the Calvert Hall Cardinals

Maybe the most impressive, St. Joe soccer made their way to the top of the MIAA and one of the top teams in the state of Maryland.  The boys defeated St. Paul’s 4-1 in their last regular season game to cement a second place seed in the conference and a first round bye in the playoffs. I asked senior captain Joe Clark for his thoughts about his team’s dominant regular season, “We’ve managed to do so well because of our strong defense, letting up the least amount of goals in the MIAA,” he explained. “Another thing we have over other teams is a strong bench. All twenty-five guys on the team contribute to our wins, and we substitute constantly in games. Our team has a lot of heart and great chemistry.”  However, after defeating Calvert Hall in close games twice during the regular season, they were on the other side of that scenario when they played the Cardinals for a third time.

Next up is the surprising story of the VolleyGaels. The varsity volleyball team has reversed their fortunes from seasons past, improving their record to 12-4 as opposed to 6-12 from a season ago. The Gaels finished tied for third place in the MIAA and continued to look like a strong contender to compete in the championship. However, the team faced their biggest game since maybe their 2006 championship: a semi-final game against the undefeated Gilman Greyhounds.  The Gaels took the first set, but would drop the next three, and witnessed the Greyhounds advance to the championship.  Still, the VolleyGaels worked their tails off to finish with their best season since 2006.

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Senior Quarterback Christian Carter stiff arms a Calvert Hall opponent

The football team also saw a wealth of success this season. Senior quarterback Christian Carter finally gotten his chance to start, and made the most of it.  During an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Carter mentioned how the spread offense has impacted the amount of points he and his offense can put on the board. “It’s very fast. That’s why we score so much. We move at a fast pace. Everybody is open. It gets people clicking,” he said to Sun reporter Tony Worgo.  Another key story line was the team’s stellar defense throughout the course of the season.  The defense limited opposing teams’ offenses to an average of 1 to 2 scores a game.  I asked junior Ryan Gorman about how much of a difference the defense has made for the team this year, and he said, “Whenever our offense has been down, our defense has stepped up. But the same goes for the offense. When we’re down, we can count on the offense to step up.”  Because of their loss to McDonough, the football team needed to win out against the two teams above them in the rankings in order to win the league.  Unfortunately, the Gaels did not prevail, and finished in third place in the MIAA for the season.

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Senior Carter Williams running alongside Juniors Andrew Brinker and Sophomore Gabe Antone

Varsity cross country may be one of the least talked about sports in school, but Coach Turner sure knows what he is doing.  I checked the MIAA website for the standings and was surprised to see the Gaels sitting atop the conference at 7-0.  The team is comprised of seniors Alex Whittaker, Carter Williams, and Garrett Keidel, as well as juniors Hunter Petrik, Andrew Brinker, and sophomore Gabe Antone. Carter had this to say about his team’s under-the-radar season: “We don’t really mind that we’re an unnoticed sport. Our whole team has put in so much work. We’re all silent and hungry. We just go to the course, give it our all, and take care of business, and I think that shows in our record and performances we’ve had so far.”  Their approach worked as the XC team won the MIAA championship, and the private school state championship.

I’m excited to report that we can look forward to more sports later this year to being contenders to win it all.

There is not much that needs to be said about basketball, but we can all expect them to finish near the top of the conference.  I can honestly say that I believe no other school has more hype surrounding an individual sports team than we do for our basketball team.  Look for the hype to increase as 4-star guard Darryl Morsell announced Wednesday afternoon that he has decided to commit to the University of Maryland. We saw the hype surrounding the basketball team increase immediately, as ‘Darryl Morsell’ was trending on twitter not even an hour after committing to the University of Maryland.

It is my opinion that the indoor track team is very similar in terms of publicity to the cross country team. The indoor track team was the missing link in the clean sweep a year ago between indoor, outdoor, and cross country championships.  With cross country already crowned victors, look for indoor to attempt to complete the second leg of the cycle.

The Tier-1 ice hockey team is also said to be contenders for the championship. While talking to senior Jay Davis, he reported, “We are definitely better than last year, and I expect to see us in the championship game.” Looks like we can add hockey onto the list of teams to contend for a title this school year.

Coach Spurrier led his outdoor track team to a 1st place finish in the spring last school year. Obviously the team will look to repeat as champions, with maybe a position to clinch the running sweep (with cross country and indoor track). Outdoor track is yet another team that does not get enough press for their success, but hopefully we can bring to light how successful the team has the potential to be.

Even though my opinions for the baseball team are even more biased than all of the previous paragraphs, I do believe that our baseball team can compete to win the championship in the spring.  Comprised of fourteen returning players, most of whom obtained a wealth of experience a year ago,the team will look to win its first championship in thirteen years.

Although my initial prediction was that we’ll see six athletic teams win championships this school year, I still see the potential for a couple more in these next two sports seasons. I am very excited for what this year can bring.  The best thing I can say is that we should get out to as many home sporting events as we can and cheer on our classmates during their seasons!

“Taking the Long View” Coach Pat Clatchey’s Impact on MSJ Basketball

Before Pat Clatchey took over as head basketball coach at Mount St. Joseph High School, the Gaels had never won a Baltimore Catholic League Championship. Since Clatchey’s tenure began in 1992, Saint Joe has been a consistent threat in both the competitive BCL and MIAA leagues. They’ve won 20 league or tournament championships, and have remained the team to beat year in and year out.

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(Left to Right) Kam Williams ’13, Phil Booth ’14, Coach Clatchey, and Phil Lawrence ’12 Photo Credit: Varsity Sports Network

Before the Clatchey era MSJ’s basketball program was far from its current state. Clatchey saw them as “respectable”. They were a team that struggled to find consistent success, and this led to a 32 year BCL championship drought. According to Clatchey, when he arrived as the new coach he says they were “stuck in quicksand”. As a new coach, he says “I had to change things, and put things in place that I wanted to accomplish.” He wanted to change the mentality from mediocrity to excellence.

One of his biggest goals was to do a better job of recruiting players. The first player he ever recruited was a 6’7’’ 8th grader named Danny Whye. The eighth grader had never played basketball before, but Clatchey was able to mold him into a league powerhouse. Clatchey says, “He was kinda like the pioneer, he was the first guy to buy in and believe. He was a great example of what we were able to accomplish while he was here.” Whye became an all league player, and went on to play Division 1 basketball in college. His story of success hinted at the potential of the program for the future.

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Coach Pat Clatchey is entering his 25th season at St. Joe. Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun

Another key turning point came with the arrival of power forward Will Thomas. “In terms of championships he took our program to another level,” Clatchey says. In Thomas’s junior and senior seasons, the Gaels won back-to-back championships. And the highly-decorated forward became the program’s first BCL Player of the Year. In college, Thomas led George Mason on their famous 2006 run to the Final Four.

With players like Danny Whye, Will Thomas and numerous others, the basketball program skyrocketed to the top. The Gaels went from a 32 year championship drought to being a favorite every year. Since 2003 the team has won 20 league or tournament championships. Clatchey says “we are the common denominator when it comes to competing for championships.” They’ve created a level of consistency that is matched by few others. The Gaels developed what Clatchey calls, “a system and style of play that is conducive to winning and competing for championships.”

Over 40 of Clatchey’s players have competed at the Division 1 level.

Although winning championships may have been new to the Gaels, it was not to Clatchey. Originally the Freshmen team coach, he was very successful. He coached for only four years, but during that time his team won the league title each year. Further along in his career he worked as an assistant coach for UMBC, as well as an NBA scout for both the Lakers and the Washington Bullets. When he returned to MSJ, he brought a new winning attitude and perspective of the game, that helped him turn around the program.

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Will Thomas ’04 playing for George Mason University Photo Credit: Getty Images

Clatchey has seen his players and himself receive many awards over the years. What stands out the most to him has been “being able to see so many guys get college scholarships and go to school for free at some tremendous universities.” Over 40 of Clatchey’s players have competed at the Division 1 level. Most recently, Phil Booth (MSJ ‘14) helped Villanova win the 2016 NCAA championship. In the tournament final, Booth led all Wildcat Scorers with 20 points. Booth is a prime example of the legacy and reputation that Clatchey has created. He has left a mark not only at the local level in Baltimore, but also nationally through players who have gone on to succeed both in college and professionally.

Clatchey is hoping for yet another successful season this year. After finishing first in the MIAA last year with a 33-6 record, MSJ looks to return to the top. With a good nucleus of returning players such as forward Jalen Smith and combo-guard Darryl Morsell (UMD ’21 commit), as well as new pieces to surround them, the Gaels will be one of the biggest contenders for a championship.

Submitted by Thomas Hill ’17.

The 2015-2016 MSJ Basketball Season in Review

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Junior Darryl Morsell in action against St. Frances in the MIAA Championship. Photo Copyright of Justin Sharpe.

Co-Authored by Greg Keidel ’19 and Christopher Flynn ’19

As spring sports begin and final cuts are being made, we look back at this year’s basketball season.

The Gaels were led by seniors Pierre Johnson, Randy Miller, and Miles Wilson; juniors Justice Kendall, Darryl Morsell, and Nigel Jackson; and sophomore Jalen Smith. The team finished 31-5 and won the BCL regular season championship.

There are many ways to describe this season, but when we talked to Coach Clatchey he said this season was “very successful.” Even after finishing last season “on a down note,” as he called it, this season was a “redemption” season.

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Senior Pierre Johnson in the MIAA Semi-Final against Glenelg Country School. Photo Copyright of Justin Sharpe.

To review:

  • The season started with two road wins and a hard loss by double digits to St. Frances at home.
  • The team dug deep and won six straight with a big road win at John Carroll and another at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii.
  • They fell then to Lone Peak, who rank 29th in the country, by only one point (47-46).
  • Again though, the team persevered and won fifteen games straight, including victories over St. Frances, Goretti, and Glenelg Country in that run.
  • Then, with four games left in the season, they fell to Glenelg Country. As usual though, the Gaels came back and six days later beat Glenelg Country.
  • The Gaels faced St. Frances in the MIAA A Conference Championship, where they lost, even though they gave great effort (75-67).
  • In the BCL tournament, the team easily passed Loyola (59-44) and Calvert Hall (93-51). They advanced to face John Carroll. Sadly, John Carroll’s Immanuel Quickley hit a 3-point shot with 1.8 seconds left, leaving the Gaels one final opportunity to get a shot off, but it was slightly to the right and missed. This heartbreaking loss gave the Gaels their 5th loss of season (51-50).

When we asked about the seniors in key roles leaving this year, Coach said, “We have a good nucleus coming back,” and mentioned the 31-0 JV team who has possible players moving up and helping fill those roles.

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Senior Miles Wilson during a match against Calvert Hall. Photo Copyright, Justin Sharpe.

We asked Coach Clatchey if there were any moments from this season that would stick with him forever. He said the trip to Hawaii in general will stick with everyone. About the team though, he said the character of the team was something he was proud of, as well as the fact that they never lost two games in a row. When asked about this season and if there were any regrets, Coach Clatchey expressed disappointment in losing the championships, but no regrets.

Losing both the MIAA championship as well as the BCL should not describe the Gaels’ season though. The Gaels were still very impressive this season with their 31-5 record. Getting to the championships was high on their list of goals to accomplish, and they did that this year. Next year they will take it a step further, winning both the MIAA and BCL Championship.

Playing in the Alhambra Tournament on March 10-12, Mount Saint Joseph started with a loss, but finished strong, beating St. Frances 65-60 and nationally-ranked Gonzaga 63-62 with a buzzer beater by Pierre Johnson.

As Coach Clatchey said earlier, “We are accustomed to competing and winning championships,” we asked how the team plans to bounce back strong for next year. He said that the players just need to get better and be committed to improving their skills, hopefully with the “understanding that it’s a team game. It’s a process, and competing and winning championships are an expectation here.”

 

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Senior Miles Wilson in action against St. Frances in the MIAA Championship. Photo Copyright of Justin Sharpe.