It wasn't much of a secret for St. Frances that stopping Louis Bullock of Laurel Baptist would be important in their game last night at the Charm City Classic at Loyola College.
And the third-ranked Panthers did an effective job against Bullock, the state's top senior, limiting him to 5-for-11 shooting.
But it was Bullock's smooth free-throw stroke that did in St. Frances as it fell to Laurel Baptist, ranked No. 7 in the Washington area, 77-74, before a crowd of 1,000 at Reitz Arena.
Bullock was a Charm City record 22-for-22 from the free-throw line, finishing with 32 points. Calvin Stith and Chris Chapman each added 14 for Laurel Baptist (24-2).
Sophomore forward Mark Karcher led St. Frances (16-2) with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Alphonso Jones added 18 and Charles Beaufort and Darryl Dantzler each had 12.
Trailing 68-56, midway through the final quarter, the Panthers scored eight consecutive points, capped by a layup by Dantzler with 2:37 to pull within, 68-64.
Then it was Bullock keeping the Panthers at bay. The 6-foot-2 guard who's heading to Michigan, hit six straight free throws as Laurel Baptist pushed the lead back to 74-66 with 1:37 remaining.
"In the first half, we came out slow," said Bullock. "We really didn't concentrate, but we played a great second half until toward the end."
It was all St. Frances for most of the first half, leading by as 11 points before settling for a 36-33 halftime advantage, shooting 16-for-31.
A big reason was Jones and Karcher, who had 11 first-half points, but were slowed down by Laurel Baptist's triangle-in-two defense.
Another was the other Laurel Baptist performers who are sometimes forgotten because of Bullock.
Trailing 40-33 with 7:20 remaining in the half, the Eagles scored eight straight points, none of which were scored by Bullock to take their first lead.
Stith hit a jumper, then after a free throw by Bill McKenzie, Chris Chapman hit another jumper. With 5:53 remaining, Landon Rowe hit a three-pointer giving Laurel Baptist a 41-40 lead.
"It's a shame that Louis gets all the attention but those guys know who they are," said Laurel Baptist coach Chris Chaney. "Everybody understands their role and performs well in it."
Darryl Dantzler got the defensive assignment against Bullock and did an effective job, limiting him to 11 first-half points.
Leading 8-7, the Panthers went on a 7-0 run, getting by five points by Jones to pull out to a 15-7 cushion.
Bullock scored his first points on a baseline drive making it 15-9, but Dantzler answered with a three-pointer, giving them a nine-point cushion that held at the end of the quarter.
A basket by Charles Beaufort to open up the second quarter gave the Panthers their largest lead of the half at 24-13.