Cook scored a game-high 25 points, and No. 6 St. Frances smothered No. 3 Mount St. Joseph with tough defense throughout as the Panthers led from start to finish en route to a 56-48 victory.
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St Frances Academy, 501 E Chase St, Baltimore, MD 21202-4206, USA
The Panthers threw a number of different looks at Mount St. Joseph (19-4, 9-2, 8-2). They used full-court pressure at times, plus other kinds of presses to throw the Gaels off their game.
St. Frances played tough half-court defense the entire game, making Mount. St. Joseph work for every shot.
"We wanted to show them some different looks," St. Frances coach Nick Myles said. "[We wanted] to keep them off-balance."
St. Frances forced only nine Mount St. Joseph turnovers, but the Gaels needed to battle on every possession to find shots. Kameron Williams led Mount St. Joseph with 21 points, but the Panthers controlled Lavon Long (seven points) and Phil Booth, who had six points Friday night but scored 20 in the team's first meeting.
"They made it a lot harder for us to score," Mount St. Joseph guard Jaylen Adams said. "We felt like we were fighting uphill the whole game."
Cook helped that feeling with his strong performance as he was the only St. Frances player to finish in double figures. He also turned in a strong effort on defense.
"We played every defensive possession like it was out last," Cook said. "I didn't think they expected us to come out with the intensity we came out with."
On offense, the senior guard scored eight points in the first quarter as the Panthers went up 16-12 after one. He then added six straight points in one minute late in the second quarter to give St. Frances a nine-point lead, its biggest of the game.
But the Gaels kept fighting back — and Cook always answered. He scored seven of his points in the fourth quarter.
St. Frances also got some help from freshman guard Kurk Lee off the bench. Lee just came up to the varsity a few weeks ago, but scored nine of his 11 points in the second half.
Lee made a three-point play to give St. Frances a 45-38 lead with 2:52 left. He added another free throw with 30 seconds remaining for a 52-46 edge.
The Panthers' Tevon Saddler added nine points, and Tyrus Costley scored five while playing tough defense on Williams.
St. Frances 56, Mount St. Joseph 48
M-Adams 6, Jones 2, Booth 6, Williams 21, Doran 3, Lawrence 3, Long 7. Totals: 17 8-12 48.
S-Saddler 9, Cook 25, Warren 4, Heard 2, T. Costley 5, Lee 11. Totals: 20 14-19 56. Half: SF, 25-21.