The Pallotti Prep and Gilman School boys basketball teams split their two regular season games and shared the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference regular season title. Sunday afternoon, as the teams met for the third time in the MIAA B Conference championship game, Pallotti coach Shae Johnson said he knew exactly what his team needed to do.
“First thing we have to do is try to contain Cyrus Jones,” Johnson said before the game. “You can’t stop him, so you can only hope to contain him. We also need to contain [Ryan] Ripken, and we need to see if we can make some other people score. We really need our whole team to step up and fight to the very end.”
While nine Pallotti players scored, the combined efforts of Jones (22 points), Ripken (21 points) and Gilman junior Ben Grace (17 points) were too much for the Panthers, who fell to the Greyhounds 69-62 on Sunday at The University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
“Gilman came ready to play, and we just didn’t come out like we normally do,” said Pallotti senior Langston Burnett. “I didn’t get what I wanted, which was a championship. We could’ve played more aggressively. Today was just a bad day.”
Jones started the game by picking off an errant pass and streaking down the court to score his first points on a layup. Grace was fouled on a 3-point attempt on Gilman’s next possession, hitting 2 of 3 from the line, and he hit a jumper his next time down the court to give Gilman a fast 6-0 lead.
The Greyhounds went on a 12-5 run, capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Ripken. But Jeffery Holland and Burnett scored to bring the Panthers within nine to close the first quarter, and Pallotti answered with 13-4 run to take a 24-23 lead with 5 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
A Ripken jumper allowed Gilman to re-take the lead, and the Greyhounds never looked back.
Trailing by 13 points with 4:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, Pallotti used a 12-5 run to get within five points at 65-60. After junior Marcus Scott’s two free throws capped the rally, Gilman’s ensuing inbound went to Jones, who had the ball poked away. He and Scott both dove for the ball at half court.
“I had the ball,” Scott said. “Then he hit me and I lost it and he picked it up, then I grabbed it again, and they called time out.”
“I’m not saying anybody cheated or anything. They beat us fair and square,” Johnson said. “But that was a pivotal play, and when I shared my opinion with the referee, he agreed with me. That play could’ve gone either way.”
The Panthers were forced to foul, putting Grace and Jones on the line. Each hit one free throw to give the Greyhounds a seven-point lead, then Jones finished the game the same way he started it. Coming up with a steal, he sped down the court and scored Gilman’s final points of the contest with a one-handed dunk.
“Some of our seniors, they wanted it so bad, and it was their last chance to get it,” Scott said. “We played hard, but we just didn’t come to play today. We have to do the little things. They boxed out, took charges — we didn’t do that. It hurts.”
Gilman 69, Pallotti 62
Gilman 18 15 15 21 — 69
Pallotti 9 20 11 22 — 62
Gilman (21-6): Cyrus Jones 22, Ryan Ripken 21, Ben Grace 17, William McBride 5, Kareem Montgomery 2, Jake Matthai 2
Pallotti (21-7): William Lyle 13, Marcus Scott 11, Jamar White 9, Marquise Reed 8, Jeffrey Holland 7, Langston Burnett 5, Marcus Bright 4, JaCarl Smith 3, Tariq Owens 2