With her team clinging to a four-point lead and an undefeated season hanging in the balance, Archbishop Spalding's Jade Scaife muscled her way through a pack of St. Frances defenders and made a layup to provide some cushion.
Scaife then grabbed a defensive rebound on the next possession and fired an outlet pass that led to another layup by Torri Chestnut. Those crucial plays helped the No. 1 Cavaliers escape with a 64-54 victory over the No. 7 Panthers on Wednesday night. Spalding improved to 15-0 on the season and sits atop the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. St. Frances is jockeying with McDonogh and Seton Keough to remain near the top of the standings.
"I just felt we all came out with great intensity because we wanted to win." said Scaife, who finished with 15 points. "We just want to keep working hard in practice. We know every team is coming to get that zero. But we know that if we work hard, we'll be able to keep our undefeated record."
Camille Calhoun and Aleah Epps each had 12 points for visiting Spalding, which is now 7-0 in the IAAM. Chestnut finished with 10 points. Adreonia Coleman scored 16 points and Tyshell King added 11 to lead St. Frances (9-6, 4-2).
After trailing 12-6 at the end of the first quarter, St. Frances went to the press and caused four consecutive turnovers. Pere Alexander scored five consecutive points, Daja Belt made a pair of free throw sand the Panthers had their first lead, 13-12, with 5:33 left in the half.
St. Frances maintained its lead, but a jumper by Spalding's Myka Johnson-Matthews cut it to 23-22 lead at the break. After the teams traded baskets to start the second half, Spalding regained the lead, 33-32, on a layup by Calhoun with 3:02 left in the third quarter. The Cavaliers did not trail again.
"In the first half, we came out sluggish. I didn't know what was wrong with us," Calhoun said. "We definitely picked it up in the second half. Defensively we were talking more. That was the key for us to win this game."
Spalding went on an 11-3 run in the final minutes to put the game away. Cavaliers coach Bookie Rosemond said he was expecting St. Frances to play a zone defense, so it took his team awhile to adjust.
"They came out full-court pressure, man-to-man, and it's tough to run a play with such pressure defense," Rosemond said. "We decided to spread it out. We call it little two-man basketball — just play, two-man, playground basketball. We were pretty effective with that. They're a good team."
No. 1 Spalding 64, No. 7 St. Frances 54
SP -- Scaife 15, Calhoun 12, Epps 12, Chestnut 10, Johnson-Matthews 7, S. Clark 4, K. Clark 2, Puller 2.
Totals 25 11-22 64
SF- Coleman 16, King 11, Alexander 9, D. Belt 9, A. Bell 5, Trusty 3 , Howard 2, .
Totals 20 13-24 54
Half: SF: 23-22