Despite poor shooting by visiting Towson Catholic, No. 4 St. Frances had to stage a little run in the last two minutes to post a 60-51 victory in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs last night.
Darnell Harris led an 11-2 run to put the Panthers (24-5) in tomorrow's 2 p.m. semifinal at No. 3 Archbishop Spalding (23-6).
The No. 20 Owls (20-11) connected on only 33 percent with 21-for-63 field-goal shooting, but they climbed back from a 44-35 deficit starting the final period to get within 50-49 with 2:44 left.
Harris, the Panthers' leading scorer, had only three points in the first half but scored eight of his 14 in the final period to ignite the winning run.
"I had to step it up because we have been playing so well together the last couple weeks," said Harris. "My teammates give me confidence."
Harris had four points in the final minute after the Owls pulled to 50-49 on a three-point play by Steven Johns following three straight baskets by Jamal Smith.
Smith, the Owls' top player who is headed to Wagner College, started slow after missing five games because of an ankle injury. Still, he had seven rebounds and a team-high 16 points - eight coming in the last eight minutes.
Towson Catholic was only 1-for-14 in the first period and 6-for-9 in the first half; St. Frances, meanwhlie, shot 9-for-27 in the first half and finished at 42 percent (23 of 55).
The Panthers missed a few easy baskets in the second half to allow the Owls to come back.
"We have to realize to win tournaments, you can't be worried about getting points [individually]," said coach William Wells. "When we're home, a bunch of those AAU coaches are there and my guys start showing off not taking good shots."
Gordon Brown also had 14 points for the winners and a game-high 11 rebounds. Deshawn Alexander had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Darren Hopkins had 14 points and five rebounds for the Owls.
"We didn't start out well and it caught up with us, " said Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniel. "They made the shots."
No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons 70, No. 16 McDonogh 68, OT: Leon Williams redeemed himself after a poor fourth period at the line to lead the hosts to the thrilling quarterfinal victory.
Gibbons (26-5) will play at 5 p.m. tomorrow at No. 1 Mount St. Joseph (25-3) in the semifinals.
After sinking only one of 10 free-throw attempts in the final eight minutes of regulation, the 6-foot-8, Ohio University-bound Williams scored six points in the extra, four-minute session.
Williams went 4-for-4 in free throws in overtime to finish with 21 points in addition to his game-high 16 rebounds. Brett Foelber also scored 21 points.
The Williams-Foelber combination sent the game into overtime. With time running out and the Crusaders down by three points, Ken Hasbrouck (10 points) fired up a three-point shot that missed.
Williams scarfed up the rebound and kicked it back out to Foelber, who launched a three at the buzzer to send the game into overtime at 62-62.
"Leon made a really great play by getting it out to Brett, and Brett is clutch," said Gibbons coach Bob Flynn, whose school last won 26 games (26-5) in 1993-94 under the late Ray Mullis.
Malcolm Delaney's 29 points led the Eagles (16-13).
IAAM A semifinals
No. 2 St. Frances 69, No. 11 McDonogh 43: The Panthers used quick hands on defense, a hot hand early on offense and dominating work on the boards to take charge against visiting McDonogh (19-6) and come away with an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's A Conference semifinal win that sends them back to the championship game.
The Panthers (23-3) will try to make it two straight and three titles in four years on Sunday when they meet No. 6 Roland Park - a 45-34 winner over No. 10 Seton Keough in yesterday's other semifinal. Game time at Villa Julie College is set for 5 p.m.
No. 6 Roland Park 45, No. 10 Seton Keough 34: Roland Park hit 14 of 17 free throws down the stretch for a victory in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament semifinal at Seton Keough (18-7). The Reds (22-5) advance to meet No. 2 and defending champ St. Frances.