Men’s basketball dominates reigning champions


Chris Roberts

Senior guard Nigel Haughton brings the ball up the court in a game against West Nottingham Academy on Nov. 17. The men’s varsity basketball team defeated Mount Saint Joseph 73-54 on Nov. 27, improving their record to 2-0.

On Monday, Nov. 27, two national powerhouses faced off on the basketball court. The men’s varsity basketball team hosted the reigning MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League champions, the Mount Saint Joseph Gaels. JC defeated MSJ 74-53.

Senior guard Montez Mathis led the team with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and six steals. Additionally, junior forward Yavuz Gultekin scored 17 points off the bench. Both Mathis and Gultekin scored three pointers and finished at the rim throughout the game.

While Mathis and Gultekin were the stars of the game, head coach John Zito believes the win was a team effort. “We had a lot of great contributions from a bunch of different guys,” Zito said.

Zito also recognized senior guard Brandon Craig for his play on defense. “I thought [he] was absolutely phenomenal on the defensive end. He did a really good job guarding their kid [junior point guard James] Bishop, who’s a really good player,” Zito said.

Although JC won by 21 points, the game was competitive in the first half. MSJ led 19-14 after the first quarter. Rebounding early in the game helped the Gaels establish a lead. “We started the game with four straight stops, but we gave up four offensive rebounds, and because of it … we gave up nine total points,” Zito said.

In the second quarter, JC began to out rebound MSJ. The team’s strong effort on the glass propelled them to a 34-28 halftime lead. According to sophomore center Cameron Byers, the team often stresses the importance of rebounding. “Coach [Zito] always wants us to out rebound the other team,” Byers said

In the second half, JC dominated in all facets. JC outscored MSJ 40-15 in the second half and quickly ran away with the game.

Senior guard Rob Goyena believes the victory was important for the team. “It was definitely a big win for us. [MSJ] is definitely one of our bigger rivals. Getting a big win at home is big for us to start off the season strong,” Goyena said.

MSJ senior Jalen Smith finished the game with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Smith, a 6’9” power forward and University of Maryland commit, was guarded by multiple JC players throughout the night. “We did our best, and played him tough. Between me, Yeezy [Gultekin], and Montez [Mathis] we all pitched in to guard him,” Byers said.

On Monday, Smith and JC senior Immanuel Quickley were both named to the 2017-18 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason Boys Basketball Team by USA Today. 20 high school basketball players from across the country were named to the team. Maryland was one of three states with two players selected to the team.

Due to the widespread talent competing, basketball website featured the game on their High School Basketball Weekly Showcase and live-streamed the game on Facebook. A camera crew and play-by-play announcers were in the gym for the live-stream.

Byers found it hard to believe he was playing on such a big stage. “Being a sophomore, it’s kinda crazy. You see it online, and you never think that that can actually be you. The amount of support we got was crazy,” he said.

JC also received support from the Patriot Pit, the student section. Zito appreciates the student section and all they do for the team. “I think our student section is the best in the area. We have a great student section. I love those guys,” he said.

Although JC blew out MSJ, they played without Quickley, who was out due to an illness. Quickley is scheduled to return to the court next week, and his teammates are looking forward to him coming back. “When Immanuel [Quickley] comes back, I don’t see anybody beating us,” Byers said.

Moving forward, Zito believes the team will continue to improve in practice. “It’s a mindset you have to build in practice. Every day you’ve got to work together … Regardless of win, lose, practice, game, scrimmage, film, whatever it is, we have to remain at a high level at all times,” Zito said.

Chris Roberts is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and