St. Frances coach William Wells ordered defense, and his fifth-ranked Panthers responded with a capital "D" last night in a 47-37 home victory over No. 13 Loyola in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
Senior point guard Desmond Thomas ignited the Panthers' defense last night, while Aric Brooks scored a game-high 15 points and Anthony Oquendo chipped in 10.
The fourth-seeded Panthers (22-8) advanced to Tuesday's semifinals at Archbishop Spalding and will play top-seeded and top-ranked Towson Catholic (26-4) in the second game at 8:15 p.m.
Towson Catholic and No. 2 seed and No. 2-ranked Mount St Joseph drew byes last night. The Gaels (21-6) will play No. 3-ranked and third-seeded McDonogh (21-7) in the 6:30 p.m. semifinal Tuesday. McDonogh was a 10-point victor over Cardinal Gibbons last night.
St. Frances blew out Loyola, 69-46, in their first meeting this season, but the Dons (16-10) were a 59-57 winner in triple overtime Jan. 30.
"I told the kids they had to play good defense if they want the chance at playing in the big games like Tuesday with Towson Catholic," Wells said.
"We played very good defensively against a good team, and Desmond did a great job on one of their best shooters in Schittino."
Thomas held Sal Schittino scoreless after Schittino had scored 14 points in the triple-overtime game.
"We worked on defense in practice and I had Sal tonight," Thomas said.
"The idea was not to let him touch the ball. He had a real good game the last time and knocked down open shots. But tonight I denied him the ball."
Schittino took only three shots in the second half last night as the Dons tried to overcome a 26-14 deficit at the break and 35-22 going into the final eight minutes.
"We're a little fired up about playing Towson Catholic on Tuesday," Thomas said.
The Owls took both regular-season meetings over the Panthers, 73-63 and 71-58.
Last night, Matt Rum led Loyola with 11 points. Sean Mosley and Nadji Hibbert combined for 17 for St. Frances.