As No. 6 St. Frances avenged an early season loss to No. 3 McDonogh last night, the 58-42 victory came as a result of the young Panthers' development as a team rather than McDonogh falling into a slump.
The visiting Eagles, who started the season 16-0, suffered their second straight loss. The Panthers (12-6) have won five of their past six to pull even with McDonogh at 11-2 in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
"This says a lot about St. Frances' growth as a team," said McDonogh coach Tom Gizzi, whose squad won a 54-41 decision on Dec. 6.
"We caught them in the second game of the year, but they were very, very young. They have grown tremendously in terms of composure and in terms of playing together."
The Panthers dominated the boards, shut down McDonogh's strong perimeter game and got another good game in the paint from their two starting 6-footers, sophomore Ma-Khida Hankins (13 points, five rebounds) and freshman Kandice Green (eight points, 11 rebounds).
Panthers junior guard Maya Newman, the veteran glue of her team, contributed 23 points, six rebounds and four assists, but she praised her young teammates.
"Our young players step up. They don't think of themselves as being young players, because they're very talented. They have the skills, so they just compete," said Newman, the only starter back from last season's IAAM A Conference championship team.
Newman scored 10 of her points in the third quarter, including the first six for the Panthers to spark the biggest lead of the game, 47-27.
The Panthers, however, continued to work their edge on the boards, out-rebounding the Eagles, 50-35. In the first three quarters, the Panthers grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. The Eagles managed just six.
While the Eagles are also young, only freshman point guard Becky Cox is new to the starting lineup. Sophomore guard Brittany Mallory leads the Eagles in scoring and had 16 points last night.