The rematch was a mismatch last night.
No. 2 St. Frances strengthened its hold on first place in the Catholic League, blowing out No. 5 Calvert Hall, 91-61, before a ++ capacity crowd at the University of Baltimore.
Junior swing forward Mark Karcher led all scorers with 30 points for St. Frances (21-4, 7-1). Alphonso Jones added 18 and Shawn Hampton had 11. Juan Dixon led Calvert Hall (19-7, 5-3) with 28 points.
The Cardinals handed St. Frances its only league setback last month, rallying for a 60-54 victory in their first meeting since last year's Catholic League tournament final.
Last night was a different story. The Panthers controlled the game from the opening tip, leading 41-28 at halftime, then outscored the Cardinals 21-11 in the third quarter to build a 62-39 lead.
"We played well tonight," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "They're playing good defense and the attitude is completely different, no one is selfish."
With three of its four league games remaining to be played at the University of Baltimore, St. Frances appears to be in the driver's seat for its second straight regular-season championship.
And Karcher continues his charge toward his second straight league MVP award. The 6-foot-5 junior forward scored 18 points in the first half and finished with 11 rebounds.
"When I got things started, everybody got into it," said Karcher. ,, "We got really after it tonight, diving for loose balls and doing what ever it takes."
The Panthers started putting the game out of reach at the start of the second half, scoring six of the first seven to build a 47-29 lead with 5:46 left in the third period.
Dixon, who struggled in the first half, found his touch, scoring the Cardinals' next eight points, pulling them to 51-36.
But St. Frances was relentless on the boards and in transition, finishing the quarter with a 11-3 run in building a 23-point advantage.
"They're on a roll," said Calvert Hall coach Mark Amatucci. "You have to rebound and don't give Mark second and third shots and give them easy baskets.
"We can't play our half-court game when you're down by 10 or more because we don't matchup that well with them."
Karcher had the hot hand early, scoring six of the Panthers' first nine points as St. Frances led 9-2. The Cardinals scored the next five to pull within two.
The Panthers had a 17-11 lead after the first period, then extended it to 20-11 on a three-pointer by Karcher with 7:12 remaining in the second quarter. A dunk by Jones was followed by a basket and St. Frances had a 24-13 advantage.