The St. Frances boys basketball team had plenty to overcome last night at Calvert Hall, first and foremost the formidable host Cardinals, who showed from beginning to end they weren't about to back down.
The No. 2 Panthers needed to come back from a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation - a buzzer-beating, baseline three-pointer from junior guard Dante Holmes tied it - and then three overtime periods before they left the court with a 90-84 win over the No. 3 Cardinals.
Senior forward Terrell Vinson led five Panthers in double figures with 26 points, offsetting a 29-point performance from Calvert Hall junior Jonathan Graham. St. Frances (21-3) takes firm hold of first place in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference with a 13-0 mark, as well as in the Baltimore Catholic League (10-0).
Calvert Hall (20-3) remains in second place in both - 9-2 in the MIAA "A" and 8-2 in the BCL.
Vinson, whose dunk and four free throws in the final minute of the third overtime gave the Panthers some room at 85-79 with 46 seconds left, came back with one word after the game: heart.
"We came through at the end of the game with some big shots, and it was just heart," he said.
With the score tied at 45 going into the fourth quarter, the Cardinals appeared to take complete control with a 14-4 run that ended on a steal and layup by Raphael Morgan for a 59-49 lead with 2:51 left. The Panthers got close with help from far away, getting threes from Vinson and Wayne Sparrow (14 points) to give Holmes (21 points) a chance.
With Cardinals junior forward Damion Lee's outstretched left hand getting in Holmes' way on the right baseline, Holmes hit nothing but net to tie the score at 66 as the buzzer sounded.
At the end of the first overtime, Calvert Hall senior Shawn Holmes (12 points) hit an off-balance jumper near the foul line to tie it at 71 with seven seconds left. Teammate Donya Jackson (16 points) calmly made two free throws with four seconds left in the second overtime to tie the game at 78 before the Panthers took control in the third overtime.