When St. Frances set up its last play following a timeout with 5.9 seconds left in a tied girls basketball game Monday night, Roland Park's defense knew to cover the Panthers' go-to senior Tyshell King. They did such a good job, it backfired.
The Reds squeezed King so tightly that she missed the runner, but teammate Amia Howard was open on the weak side for the rebound and the buzzer beater that gave the No. 5 Panthers a 59-57 victory in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.
"I just knew the play wasn't over, so I had to help my team," Howard said. "It's a very big win, because that's the way you finish a game out on your home court."
Panthers coach Jerome Shelton said there won't be many comfortable leads in what is shaping up to be a close A Conference race this season. No. 3 Archbishop Spalding appears to have an edge on the pack, but five teams, including the Panthers and the Reds, could be in a roiling battle right behind them.
"You can't get comfortable," Shelton said. "Even when we were up by , you know the run is coming. They're too good an offensive team. They can really shoot the ball."
The host Panthers (5-1, 1-0 conference) took a 52-42 lead on a pair of King free throws with 4:24 to go, but the Reds (2-6, 1-3) mounted a furious comeback led by 3-point ace Beth Kelly, who hit two of her three 3-pointers in a 10-0 run that tied the game.
Early on, the Panthers covered the Reds' 6-foot senior guard well, holding her to one field goal in the first three quarters, but when they left her open, she made them pay.
King, a 5-10 swing player, broke the tie with her third 3-pointer of the night. The teams traded free throws to a 57-54 Panthers lead with 33.5 seconds to go, before Kelly hit a 23-footer to tie with 20 seconds left.
Shelton took a timeout to set up a last play which was no surprise to the Reds.
"We knew they were going to Tyshell," Roland Park coach Scott Buckley said. "We thought maybe they would set a screen and we were ready to double. We thought we'd take a chance with the runner and not foul and she missed, but everybody was up on Ty and there was nobody on the weak side."
King finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds while Kelly scored 15 and had nine assists. Lindsey Edwards led the Reds with 17 points.
5St.Frances 59, 8Roland Park 57
RP—Alexander 4, Edwards 17, Kelly 15, Holder 11, Clay 10. Totals 21 12-13 57.
SF—Trusty 5, King 24, Jackson 8, Howard 8, Alexander 6, Belt 7. Totals: 23 8-14 59. Half: SF, 25-21.