Yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference basketball championship between No. 2 St. Frances and No. 3 Calvert Hall didn't have the same feel as the teams' regular-season meeting that went three overtimes.
St. Frances wouldn't have it.
The Panthers had the defensive intensity cranked up from the start, and when the offense got up to speed in the second quarter, they made quick work of the Cardinals to earn a 56-38 win at UMBC's RAC Arena for their first MIAA championship.
Senior forward Terrell Vinson led the offense with 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Panthers' defense limited the Cardinals to 28 percent shooting from the field and blocked 10 shots.
"We came out and executed really well today. We've been working very hard since the preseason, and we play together as a team - that all pays off," Vinson said.
The Panthers (28-3) didn't lose a game in the MIAA this season, going 18-0 in the regular season before knocking off Loyola in the semifinals.
Leading 7-6 in the opening minutes of the second quarter, the Panthers got three-pointers on three straight possessions - Vinson hitting the first and third with point guard R.J. Williams (nine points, six assists) making one in between - to help them take a 25-15 lead at the half.
With the defense focused on limiting Calvert Hall junior forward Jonathan Graham (10 points), the Panthers never surrendered their double-digit lead in the second half.
"Overall, we just didn't finish shots, we didn't get many offensive rebounds and they killed us on the offensive boards," Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said. "When you don't finish plays against a team like that, they're going to score on you because they have a lot of weapons."
Calvert Hall played without guard Kyle Wise, who was ejected in the fourth quarter of its semifinal win over Towson Catholic.
Dante Holmes finished with 11 points, and Wayne Sparrow added eight for the Panthers, who will turn their attention to defending their Baltimore Catholic League title, starting with a first-round game against St. Maria Goretti at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at Loyola College. Calvert Hall (27-5) will open against Archbishop Spalding at 5:15 at Loyola.
St. Mary's 62, St. Vincent Pallotti 60:: Senior guard Nick Groce finished a left-handed layup with four seconds remaining to give the Saints their third conference crown in the past seven seasons.
Groce scored a game-high 26 points, and Mark McNeill added 19 for St. Mary's.
The Panthers had a chance to win at the buzzer, but senior guard Leon Porter's shot from the top of the three-point line hit the front rim.
Senior Kendall Watkins led Pallotti with 14 points, and Porter and Leslie Addy each finished with 13.
Sts. Peter & Paul 61, Key 46:: The Sabres limited defending champ Key to 10 points in the first half, and senior Micah Steinmiller scored a game-high 20 points for the program's first championship.
John Kaestner added 19 points, and Sebastian Kremer finished with 15 for Sts. Peter & Paul.
Senior Jacob Maldonado scored 15 for the Obezags.