Coming off a tough weekend and playing for the third time in four days Monday, Ace Valentine wanted to keep the “momentum going” for Mount Saint Joseph boys basketball team. Behind arguably his finest game, Valentine kept the top-ranked Gaels streaking.
The senior guard posted 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as Mount St. Joseph defeated No. 9 McDonogh, 92-60, in a MIAA A Conference match in South Baltimore. Amani Hansberry was again a force in the paint, recording a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards.
Junior forward Tyonne Farrell finished with 14 points for the Gaels, who won their sixth straight decision to improve to 16-2 overall and 4-0 in MIAA A play. Sunday, Mount St. Joseph defeated Calvert Hall (63-35) after scratching out a 72-69 at second-ranked St. Frances in a rematch of last year’s Baltimore Catholic League Tournament final.
“We’re coming off those two wins over St. Frances and Calvert Hall, and we just wanted to keep our momentum going,” said Valentine. “I approach every game the same way – I try to be aggressive and I try to get everybody involved”.
Valentine, who will play for UMBC next season, often found teammates on the wing for transition 3-pointers or fed them underneath for easy baskets.
“He was awesome tonight. Flat-out awesome,” Clatchey said of Valentine. “He controlled the game, he competed on defense… He’s been having a great season all year.”
Valentine’s backcourt mate, Austin Abrams added 10 points, five boards and three assists for the Gaels, who led 20-9 after one quarter and 45-26 at intermission.
“We challenged these guys today,” Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. “I told my guys ‘we gotta be locked in defensively.’ I thought if we could get stops, we could get the ball out in transition. And when we didn’t get in transition, we needed to just share it and move it in halfcourt. I thought we did that and I thought we got really good offensive balance from the interior and the perimeter.”
Valentine’s two-handed dunk late in the third put the Gaels up by 31 on the upstart Eagles, coming off of a pair of Top 10 road victories (then-No. 3 Mount Carmel and then-No. 8 Archbishop Spalding). Forward Ian Robinson scored a team-high 11 for McDonogh (11-6, 2-2 MIAA A) and Jeff Exinor netted 10 points and four rebounds while Mathani Paul-Swinson chipped in with nine points and six assists.
The Eagles, 5-23 a season ago, have doubled their win total. Before preseason practice, T.J. Jordan stepped down as McDonogh coach to lead the new College of Notre Dame men’s program which debuts in the 2023-24 campaign.
Eagles interim coach Gerald Abrams said the team has been focused all season.
“To see this group buy in, work hard and put [together] something special, it’s not me – it’s a whole lot of prayers and a whole lot of hard work from the kids,” said Abrams, who’s been a longtime McDonogh assistant. “It’s been a whole lot of selfless behavior from the kids.
Robinson, a returning senior, said the team’s morale has noticeably improved.
“I think we have a different system, we are playing more as one unit and we’ve grown as players,” Robinson said. “Last year we were all kind of young, so this year we matured as varsity players. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are as teammates and players ourselves so that kind of helps.”
NO. 1 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 92, NO. 9 MCDONOGH 60
McDonogh - Robinson 11, Exinor 10, Paul-Swinson 9, Ashton Kendall 9, Robby Fields 8, Ephraim Couplin 7, BJ Hopkins 6. Totals 22 6-9 60.
Mount St. Joseph - Valentine 21, Hansberry 18, Farrell 14, Abrams 10, Elijah Hall 6, Ryan Truitt 6, Sean Clark 5, Brashawn Galloway 5, Joaquin Agyemann 3, AJ Norman 2, DJ Wingfield 2. Totals 35 12-12 92.
McDonogh 9 17 8 26 — 60
Mount St. Joseph 20 25 26 21 — 92