Ninth-ranked Calvert Hall defeated visiting and No. 12 St. Frances, 60-53, last night, in the Catholic League opener for both teams.
Junior guard Jeremy Baker led all scorers with 25 points and Brian Matz added 10. St. Frances (3-5) was led by Mike Smith's 19 and Orlando Ransom had 14.
Baker, 5 feet 9, effectively ran the point for the Cardinals (7-2), in place of Greg Metrinko. Metrinko is out with mononucleosis and isn't expected back until next week.
"There wasn't a major difference because Greg and I play both positions during a game," said Baker, who regularly is the shooting guard. "This helps our confidence because last year we started out in the Catholic League losing our first three games. We needed to get off on the right track."
Leading, 45-44, the Cardinals began to pull away, outscoring St. Frances, 8-0, to extend their lead to 53-44 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
After pulling to within one, the Panthers went cold, missing five shots and three turnovers during the Calvert Hall run.
"We lost our composure," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "I thought the referees kept us from getting into the game, but that's no excuse because we just played poorly."
With Ransom leading the way, the Panthers forged to a 16-7 first-quarter advantage. But the 6-foot sophomore didn't score again until late in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals rallied in the second quarter, outscoring St. Frances 24-12, the last three on Mike Armstrong's three-pointer at the buzzer to make it, 31-28.
With Baker scoring four of Calvert Hall's first six in the third quarter, the Cardinals pushed to a 37-30 margin with 5:35 remaining before St. Frances went on a 10-2 run behind Smith and Phil Dixon (nine points) to pull within 41-40. But Baker ended the period with a three-pointer to cool the Panthers' hot hand.
"This is a good win for us because we started out kind of slow," said Calvert Hall coach Joe Baker. "They're [St. Frances] pretty talented offensively, but we did a nice job defensively, playing man-to-man."
In Catholic League action tomorrow, St. Frances will entertain Mount St. Joseph at 3:30 at the University of Baltimore and Calvert Hall will play host to Gibbons at 3:30.