The No. 3 St. Frances boys basketball team was still stinging from an upset loss to Boys’ Latin in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal.
It showed up early in Saturday’s Baltimore Catholic League semifinal against John Carroll.
By the end of the first quarter, the Panthers had built a stunning 20-point advantage and it proved more than enough for a 70-53 win over the Patriots at Goucher College.
Rajeir Jones led a balanced attack with 16 points. Koran Moore added 12 points and Elijah Epps had 11 as the Panthers (35-5) now face defending champ Mount Saint Joseph in Sunday’s championship game at 3 p.m. at Goucher. John Carroll star guard Immanuel Quickley, a McDonald’s All American and All-Metro regular headed to Kentucky, closed out his stellar four-year varsity career with 18 points as the Patriots closed out their season with a 31-8 record.
St. Frances and Mount Saint Joseph share the lead with seven BCL tournament championship wins.
“I’m just proud of my team. We didn’t make it to the MIAA finals and I told them to come into the BCL championship and try to win one here,” Epps said.
As for the strong first quarter, he added: “[It was] us playing defense, talking, communicating and just fighting.”
In building a stunning 25-5 lead after one quarter, the Panthers showed balance on offense while swarming on defense. Adrian Baldwin (nine points), Epps and Jordan Toles provided 3-pointers with Moore providing the work inside. When Moore scored off an inside feed from Baldwin at the buzzer, the lead was 20.
But the Patriots were able to settle in and the Panthers’ hot shooting wasn’t as consistent in the second quarter. A 3-pointer from Montez Mathis would get the Patriots within 30-19 with 3:19 to play in the first half and after the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to once again create separation, the Patriots closed out the first half with the last six points. Brandon Craig converted a three-point play with 39 seconds left to cut the Panthers’ lead to 37-25 at the break.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots would pull within nine, but wold never get any closer. A basket from Moore and two free throws by Toles put the lead at 58-45 with 5:44 left and the Panthers weren’t threatened again.
“I’m proud of my guys, proud of the way we fought. We came up short, but just next chapter,” Quickley said.
JC—Quickley 18, Mathis 10, Gultekin 9, Ismail 2, Craig 7, Byers 2, Haughton 5. Totals: 17 16-27 53
SF — Baldwin 9, Epps 11, Diop 7, Jones 16, Moore 12, Toles 7, Ferguson 8. Totals: 23 14-19 70
Half: SF, 37-25