Mount’s defense grounds Pilots

Mount St. Michael’s Malik Gill led a strong defensive effort in a win over Cardinal Spellman Tuesday.

Malik Gill is the type of defender oppenents hate to see matched up against them.

“I tell [Gill], ‘Just because you didn’t get the steal, doesn’t mean you are unsuccessful,’” Mount coach Tom Fraher said. “By the third quarter you have guys looking at you like, ‘Oh, here he is again.’”

The sophomore led a lockdown defensive effort, starting in the second quarter and carrying over into the third. Gill and fellow Mount St. Michael guards Chris Gay and Clarence White, who come off the bench, turned up the defensive pressure on Cardinal Spellman holding the Pilots without a field goal for just less than four minutes and to just six points in the second quarter.

Gill, who is considered the team’s best on-ball defender, turned steals into layups. He scored 12 points, hit a step back jump shot to start the second quarter and scored his team’s final four points to give the Mountaineers a 17-point halftime lead that they never looked back from. Mount cruised to a 58-41 win over visiting Cardinal Spellman in CHSAA A-North boys basketball Tuesday night.

Fraher liked his team’s chances of disrupting Spellman’s offense with its defense, getting into the passing lanes and forcing steals. While he said he sometime has to rein Gill in on offense, he loves watching him run the break and find open teammates from every angle.

“Coach always tells us to push the ball, push the ball on misses and off makes,” Gill said. “We had to push the ball and get easy shots on the fast break.”

Peter Aguilar led Mount with 17 points and Randy Samuels added 11. Chris Manhertz, who scored countless times among a pack of Mountaineer defenders, had a game-high 25 points for Spellman (4-3, 0-1), but was its only player in double figures. Matt Kerrigan added six points.

“We were kind of standing still waiting for Manhertz to do something,” Spellman coach Fred Opper said of his team’s offense in the second quarter. “Other guys have to step up. Right now we are learning that.”

The Mountaineers are off to a 6-1 start and moved to 3-0 in league play, with their only loss coming to All Hallows, a CHSAA ‘AA’ squad. In the win over the Pilots they proved they can win with more than their front line of Aguilar, Gary Acquah and center Brian McMahon.

“They stepped up,” Aguilar said of the team’s guards. “They finally stepped up. They are stronger and better than most of the guards in this league. I expect them to do good things this year.”

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