Basketball coaches always talk about coming out of halftime strong, and the No. 1 St. Frances girls certainly did that last night at No. 4 Seton Keough.
The Panthers scored 27 straight points after the break and needed almost every one of them to escape the ensuing Gators rally and come away with a 55-49 victory to finish the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference regular season undefeated.
Trailing 24-18 at the break, the Panthers (21-1, 14-0 conference) started playing the quick, intense team game they usually excel at on both ends of the court.
Deanna Harmon scored nine of her 15 points in the third quarter as the Panthers rolled over a Gators team that turned the ball over 14 times and managed just seven shots. The Panthers outscored them 25-0 in the quarter.
"We were lacking in defense in the first half, and third quarter, we came out with more intensity," Harmon said.
Briana Hutchen's follow shot gave the Panthers their biggest lead, 47-25, with seven minutes to go. Then the Gators (17-7, 11-2) began chipping away.
The Gators were within 53-49 with 18 seconds to go, but with 10 seconds left Panthers guard Shatyra Hawkes stole the ball and fed Harmon for a layup to seal the game with four seconds left.
"I felt like we got hesitant in the third quarter," Gators coach Jackie Boswell said. "I'm proud of them the way they came back from that."
No. 6 River Hill 66, Glenelg 35: : Alicia Seelaus and Shantrell Oliver scored 29 points, 15 and 14 respectively, as the visiting Hawks (16-0) beat the Gladiators.
No. 9 Archbishop Spalding 41, No. 12 Mercy 37: : Sherae Swinson scored 13 and Maggie Morrison added 11 as the host Cavaliers (17-7) beat the Magic (14-6).
Notre Dame Prep 31, No. 10 St. Paul's 28: : Rachel Quinn hit a three-pointer at the buzzer as the host Blazers (15-7) handed the Gators (22-1) their first loss this season.
No. 14. Howard 74, Reservoir 66: : Nyree Williams scored a game-high 30 points to power the Lions (14-2) past the host Gators.
No. 3 Calvert Hall 54, No. 12 Towson Catholic 50: : The visiting Owls (12-11) were up by 21 points going into the fourth quarter before the Cardinals (23-3) outscored them 30-5.