The stars did their share in Wednesday's boys basketball showdown between No. 1 Mount St. Joseph and No. 3 St. Frances.
Mount St. Joseph senior guard Phil Booth helped the visiting Gaels build an 11-point advantage in the third quarter, and St. Frances senior Dwayne Morgan made big shots to get the Panthers back in the game shortly after.
In the closing minutes, however, it was St. Frances sophomore guard Daquan Bracey who made the difference.
Bracey scored seven of his 17 points in the final two minutes — two free throws, a pivotal three-point play and two more from the foul line — to give the host Panthers a character-building 60-51 win over the Gaels.
St. Frances improves to 4-0 and 1-0 in the Baltimore Catholic League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Mount St. Joseph, now 1-1 in both leagues, falls to 4-1 overall.
Bracey's late-game performance was a testament to the Panthers' depth. The home team also got a game-high 18 points from Morgan and 13 from sophomore guard Khalil Richards.
"We just played hard defense and stayed in control [down the stretch]. This is real big, and I'm just ready to get on to the next game," Bracey said.
When Mount St. Joseph's Jordan McNeil hit two free throws with 6:14 to play in the third quarter, the Gaels had the game's biggest lead at 35-24. But Morgan closed out the third quarter with a dominant final three minutes, converting two three-point plays and scoring two more baskets to get the Panthers even at 42 going into the fourth quarter.
With the Panthers holding a slim 49-47 with just under two minutes to play, Bracey helped them take control. He hit two free throws with 1:58 to play, and after the Panthers got a big stop at the defensive end, he converted a three-point play with 1:05 left to pad the lead to 54-47. An emphatic dunk by Jared Hamilton and four more free throws in the final 36 seconds closed out the win.
"I think it was a great team win," St. Frances coach Nick Myles said. "We stuck to the game plan. The kids stayed disciplined, worked hard, and I think they deserved the win. Daquan, for him to be a sophomore, it's unbelievable."
The Gaels, who got 15 points from Booth and 14 from McNeil, went on an 11-0 run late in the first half and started strong in the third quarter to seemingly take control. But they made only two baskets in the final 3:28 of play.
"They're ability to manufacture points with their quickness, athleticism and toughness [was the difference]," Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey said. " We got a loss and a lot of teachable moments. There were a lot of situations on both sides of the ball that we need to address and improve on. We had stretches where we played good ball, but we've talked about having the ability to sustain that execution. It's a 32-minute game, and we didn't play for 32 minutes."
3 St. Frances 60, 1 Mount St. Joseph 51
MSJ – Booth 15, Adams 11, McNeil 14, Doran 3, Barnes 3, Miller 3, Doles 2. Totals: 16 12-16 51.
SF – Morgan 18, Ayeni 4, Richards 13, Robinson 2, Hamilton 4, Bracey 17, Micklos 2. Totals: 21 11-16 60
Half: MSJ, 28-21.