Seton Keough coach Jody Powell challenged her team during a timeout with just under 3 minutes left in Friday's game.
She told the Gators to believe they could win even though visiting St. Frances held a six-point lead. The team accepted Powell's challenge.
Karli Zeps led a late charge that saw No. 10 Seton Keough score the game's final 12 points to beat No. 6 St. Frances, 60-54, in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.
Zeps scored six points in the 12-0 run and finished with 20 overall. She went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final 16 seconds to help the Gators (7-6 overall, 4-2 in IAAM A Conference) rally.
Caitlin Alley came up with a key steal, two free throws and an offensive rebound in the final 1:10 for Seton Keough.
"I told them you've got to believe you can win the game," Powell said. "I said that I want you to go to the [basket] with confidence, get to the line or score."
St. Frances (8-5, 3-1) appeared to be in command when Alanica Bell's free throw gave the Panthers a 54-48 lead with 3:02 left. But the Gators began using full-court pressure on defense and played more aggressively, forcing five St. Frances turnovers during the remainder of the game.
Hollie Booker started the game-winning run on a layup with 1:54 left. She then helped on a steal that led to a layup from Aaliyah "Stixz" Wilson (24 points) that made it 54-52 with 1:14 remaining.
Alley stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made one free throw 5 seconds later. She missed a second foul shot but raced to the left sideline to make a diving save and keep possession. That led to Zeps' driving bank shot with 55 seconds left to give the Gators the lead for good at 55-54.
Zeps later made two free throws with 16 seconds left and again with 8.5 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
"We took a lot of risks, but they were good risks," Zeps said. "The biggest thing was taking our time, slowing down and doing what we do best."
Free throws also helped out. Powell said Seton Keough has struggled at the line this season, and she has made the team work a lot to improve.
That practice paid off in this game as the Gators made six of nine free throws in the final 1:09. They shot 17-for-26 from the line overall.
St. Frances hurt its chances throughout the game with 25 turnovers. The Gators had 22 of their own, but they only made two in the last 6 minutes as they created better scoring chances.
"Our defense wasn't there [late]," said Tyshell King, who led St. Frances with 15 points. "We turned the ball over too much."
10 Seton Keough 60, 6 St. Frances 54
SF- King 15, Howard 8, Coleman 12, A. Bell 8, Alexander 8, D. Bell 3. Totals: 19 16-24 54.
SK- Alley 6, Hudson 4, Booker 5, Wilson 24, Porter 1, Zeps 20. Totals: 21 17-26 60. Half: SK, 30-26.