Tag Archives: MIAA

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.

IceGaels Get it Done, Bring the MIAA Title Back to St. Joe

We knew Cross Country was going to win. We knew basketball was going to sit atop the conference. What we did not foresee was senior captain Alec Pupshis hoisting up the championship plaque in the middle of a sea of celebrating students.

Senior Jay Davis holding the MIAA Championship trophy. Photo Credit: MSJ Hockey

The Hockey team defied any and all expectations thrust upon them in the biggest way possible. I talked to senior Jay Davis back in December and asked him about his expectations for the upcoming season. I was unsure how competitive the IceGaels would be, and when Jay replied to me with, “We are definitely better than last year, and I expect to see us in the championship game.” Now we know Jay was spot on, as they not only appeared in the championship, but upset the #1 seed to take home the title.

Meanwhile, the game itself was as good as it gets and suspenseful up until the very end. Our notorious student section showed out in a big way, undeterred $8 dollar admission fee, and the energy matched the team’s effort on the ice the entire game. It did not take long for the Calvert Hall Cardinals to take a lead. They had a man alone with the goalie, and took advantage of it, scoring early in the first period.  This goal tested the spirits of the students, but they did not let up, and neither did the guys on the ice. Towards the end of the first period, the puck got loose near Calvert Hall’s goal, and in the effort to possess the puck, a man pile of skaters formed, providing a perfect distraction for St. Joe to score (I don’t think anybody had any idea what happened when that goal went in). All I remember from that moment was the silence of students waiting for something, anything to happen. It was not until the referee’s whistle blew, and a couple St. Joe players threw their arms into the air did the crowd erupt into cheering and a very poorly coordinated yelling version of the beginning of Chelsea Dagger.

After an action packed first period, I expected more of the same through the next. However that was not the case. The goalies and their defenders took over for both teams. Personally, I have never been to a hockey game before, but the numerous saves the goalies had on both sides left me stunned. The defense would carry through the rest of game, as the third period ended with the score still tied at one-to-one.

As the overtime period started, the crowd was electric in an unprecedented way. It took only two minutes for the Gaels to score the final goal of the game. While the crowd was loud before, when the puck crossed the goal line, it erupted even louder than I could have imagined. I was standing in the third row of the stands. It took about five seconds of people pushing and shoving for me to be pushed up against the glass in the middle of a tidal wave of people yelling.

The Tier-1 Ice Hockey team gets to take home the MIAA plaque, taking part in possibly the best season of athletics we have seen in years. We have seen Indoor Track win, Wrestling win, Ice Hockey win, and also Basketball win the MIAA Championship. It surely has been a spectacular season for St. Joe athletics!

MSJ knocks off Loyola to claim first MIAA Cross Country Championship

The magnitude of what happened last week at Stevenson University Greenspring Campus seems too great to explain in words, but I’ll try anyway. The Dons were heavily favored to win the league after having dominating performances throughout the year. This Loyola team did not want the streak of six consecutive championships to end with them.

Besides Loyola and Mt. St. Joe, the only other team seemingly in contention for the championship was McDonogh. McDonogh had two top runners but lacked a strong four and five, which would eventually pull them out of the running in the all-MIAA Championship meet.

The Gaels beat the Dons twice this year in big invitational competitions, so they felt more confident than some thought they should have. The Gaels’ race plan was to give the top runners from Loyola and McDonogh a few seconds in the first mile, in hopes that MSJ runners could make up the distance later in the race when their opponents started to fade.

The stuff of dreams. Holding the Championship trophy.

This plan seemed to backfire from the start of the race. Loyola’s top two runners, Frankie Legambi and Kenny Rowe, were in the front and had a ten place lead over the MSJ pack. Their third runner, Kevin Wegner, also positioned himself near the front and did not appear to be slowing down after the mile mark. It appeared that the Gaels were going to finish in a solid second place and be nowhere in contention for the title.

However, the heat played a factor in the race, and just before the two mile mark, the Dons’ top runner Legambi slowed down and dropped out of the race.  This brought new life into the MSJ team, and they began to surge to the front.  Alex Whittaker and Hunter Petrik began to pick off runners and moved into the top ten.  Justin Russell, Carter Williams and Jake Almendra also moved up and got into the top twenty.  In the end, Whittaker finished 6th, Petrik 7th, Williams 11th, Almendra 13th, and Russell 15th.

The Gaels were also helped significantly by their 6th and 7th runners, Andrew Brinker and Joe Ruf.  A team’s score in cross country is the combination of the places of only the top five finishers; however, if a team is able to get their 6th and 7th runners in front of another team’s 5th, they can make the other team’s score suffer. Since Brinker and Ruf beat Loyola’s 5th runner, Loyola’s score went up two points and made all the difference. The final score was MSJ-52, Loyola-54 (lowest score wins).

Champions! The Cross Country team poses with the MIAA Trophy.

Overall, it was an outstanding season for the Gaels. The team won the first ever MIAA title for the school and promises to be strong again next year. Almost every runner on the team improved by one to two minutes from the start of the season. Many of the runners have said that winning this championship seems unreal because of the dominance that Loyola has had in the league. The tide seems to have turned now in favor of St. Joe, and Coach Turner and the runners hope to start their own streak of championships in the coming years.

Be prepared for many more trophies coming from the Cross Country team in the future.