The last time the No. 1 St. Frances girls basketball team played on its home floor against Seton Keough, the visitors embarrassed the Panthers with a 22-point drubbing. They weren't about to let that happen again.
Last night, the Panthers took a 14-point first-quarter lead and cruised to a 71-56 win in a rematch of last season's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship and a clash of the only unbeaten teams in the conference.
St. Frances (12-1 overall, 6-0 conference) avenged that 62-40 regular-season loss by beating the Gators, 49-43, in overtime for its sixth straight A Conference championship, but it still stung from allowing such a lopsided loss in its own gym.
"We were very motivated," said guard Deanna Harmon, who scored 10 of her 13 points in the first quarter. "It was our pre-game plan to think about how they blew us out in our home gym last year, and we just wanted to come back with intensity and be ready to play."
That motivation showed right away as the Panthers used their superior quickness and a double-teaming offense to run over the No. 4 Gators (12-5, 5-1) early on. Guards Shatyra Hawkes and Tasia Bristow finished with 22 and 17 points, respectively, and forward Briana Hutchen had nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
Seton Keough went to its strength on the inside with 6-foot-4 Asya Bussie, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and 5-11 Achiri Ade, who added 17 and 10. That helped the Gators rally in the second quarter.
On the first basket of the second half, Ade's follow shot, the Gators pulled within 38-30, but the Panthers scored 12 unanswered points to push their lead to 20 points with 3:35 left in the third quarter.
NO. 9 CATONSVILLE 54, MILFORD MILL 30: : Shamika Williams has seen her share of games won at the final buzzer over the past three years. Yesterday, the senior played in one won in the first 5:51.
The Comets (9-0) used an up-tempo offense and tough man-to-man defense and took advantage of poor shooting by the Millers to run out to a 10-0 lead en route to a win in a key Baltimore County game.
"We came out strong," said Williams, who led all scorers with 17 points. "We wanted to play as a team and jump out on them early. We hustled."
Devonne Richardson led the host Millers (5-3) with nine points.
The Comets held the Millers scoreless on their first 11 tips trips down the floor, a streak that was finally broken when Breona Blount hit a layup with 2:09 left in the first quarter. They were Milford Mill's only points of the period in the quarter.
The Millers played better in the second quarter but were still outscored 9-8 and took a 23-10 deficit into halftime.
Although Catonsville's offense looked rusty at times, the Comets' defense made up for that at the other end of the floor. Catonsville used a series variety of defenses and screens to keep pressure on the Millers all night. The Comets finished with 15 steals and nine blocks, both season highs.
When the Millers did manage to get a shot off, Catonsville - led by Maya Torain's 13 rebounds - dominated on the defensive boards.
NO. 6 RIVER HILL 57, ATHOLTON 39: : Ryan Dannelly scored 15 points to lead the host Hawks (9-0).
NO. 7 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 43, NO. 10 MERCY 34: : Brya Freeland scored a game-high 14 points to power the visiting Cavaliers (11-3) past the Magic (9-3).
NO. 14 MOUNT HEBRON 58, MARRIOTTS RIDGE 13: : Brittany Bowen scored 14 points to lift the Vikings (8-1) over the visiting Mustangs.
NO. 3 CALVERT HALL 65, ST. JOHN'S CATHOLIC PREP 53: : Donya Jackson and Damion Lee combined for 35 points as the Cardinals (14-2) beat the Vikings.
NO. 10 JOHN CARROLL 57, MCDONOGH 43: : Isaiah Philmore scored a game-high 25 points to lift the Patriots (13-5) over the host Eagles.
NO. 12 TOWSON CATHOLIC 70, ST. MARIA GORETTI 56, OT: : The host Owls (7-6) outscored the Gaels 16-2 in overtime. Goretti's Stephon Berry (18 points) sent the game into overtime.
MARRIOTTS RIDGE 42, MOUNT HEBRON 41: : Tim Blair hit a running jump shot with 2.7 seconds left to lift the host Mustangs (3-6) over the Vikings.
Baltimore Sun reporters contributed to this article.