St. Vincent Pallotti avenged a bitter loss in last season's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title game with a sweet 83-72 victory over defending champion Gilman at the Finney Athletic Center in Roland Park on Friday night.
The showdown featured teams with uptempo offenses holding sway over defensive strategies designed to slow them down.
The Panthers (8-1, 3-0 conference), who have already claimed a win over No. 1 Mount St. Joseph, took a 40-32 halftime lead and used a pair of three-pointers by Jeff Holland and a basket by Marcquise Reed to widen the gap to 48-32.
The advantage stayed in double digits and the pace remained frenetic until Gilman senior guard Ben Grace's layup with three seconds left in the third quarter trimmed Pallotti's lead to 62-53 heading into the final period.
"When we get into a running game with Pallotti, it's to their advantage," Gilman coach Owen Daly said. "If you had told me before the game that Pallotti would score 83 points, I would have thought we would have lost by 25. The only reason we didn't is because we played so hard."
Neither team backed down in the fourth quarter, although the score tightened early in the period on a pair of free throws by sophomore Kai Locksley and a three-pointer by senior Matt Tilley.
Pallotti answered on a stick-back by Jordan Preston and a three-pointer by Brian Parker before Gilman (1-4, 0-2) staged a final charge that featured a rim-rattling slam dunk by Locksley followed by junior point guard William McBride's runner.
With their lead cut to 69-64, the Panthers promptly answered with a pair of Reed free throws and 6-foot-9 junior center Tariq Owens' dunk.
After Grace hit a short jumper for the Greyhounds, a scoop shot at the other end by sophomore Fernando Cavallo restored order for Pallotti.
Pallotti coach Shae Johnson said that Cavallo's shot may have been the game's most important moment in that it stemmed the Greyhound's final bid to make a game of it.
"We were trying to take the clock down at that point," Johnson said. "We trust our guards to make good decisions with the ball, and he made a great play."
Reed led the Panthers with 27 points and Owens totaled 10 points, five assists and eight blocks, four of which came in the fourth quarter.
Grace topped Gilman with 24 points and Locksley added 22.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun