Senior Night is often a game that is magical for departing players. No. 2 St. Frances showed up big for its seniors with a 79-57 win over St. John’s Catholic on Friday night.
While retiring the number of Angel Reese and honoring fellow senior Khalia Turner, St. Frances sprinted to an early lead and never looked back. Both Reese and Turner led the way for the Panthers as they scored 14 and 11, respectively. Junior Aniya Gourdine also added 11.
“Angel Reese and Khalia Turner have been bedrocks in the program — Khalia for two years and Angel for four years,” St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton said. “So, their contributions to this program have gotten us where we are today, a nationallyranked program. We’re really proud of them and we know that when they leave us they will be going to their selected institutions to do some good things."
St. Frances was coming off of 69-65 loss at the hands of No. 6 McDonogh on Wednesday. Friday night’s performance had to be better in the eyes of Shelton, especially playing against St. John’s, which came into the game holding the second seed in the IAAM A Conference.
“In regards to our play today, I just felt that we showed a lot of energy and much more than we did on Wednesday night. We know how to bounce back here. We made some corrections in terms of our mental approach and our physical approach tonight. It was a far better defensive effort and we shot the ball a lot better tonight too, which really helped.”
Reese, ESPN’s second-ranked recruit in the country, played on an ankle that she rolled earlier in the week. She still was able to find open teammates for easy layups or jump shots. Distribution became key for the budding superstar.
“Wednesday, I rolled my ankle and I really wasn’t supposed to play tonight,” Reese said. “I had a high ankle sprain, but I did as much as I could tonight and we won. So, that’s all that matters. I wasn’t really worried about the points.”
The Panthers opened a 22-17 lead after the first quarter with Reese leading all scorers with seven. Jasmine Huskey had five and Sarah Yoda had four for the Vikings.
St. Frances went into halftime with a 14-point lead, stemming from Gourdine’s seven points while Reese rested. Opportune 3-point shots from Khalia Turner and Daimoni Dorsey put the Panthers up 45-31. The Panthers would go on to mount a 60-34 lead after the third and emptied their bench in the fourth quarter.
Kayla Cooper scored 22 for the Vikings. Her final 16 points came in the fourth quarter.
“I looked at her and said ‘Kayla, could you have a 28-point fourth quarter?’ and she was like ‘No, is this a joke?,’” said St. John’s Catholic coach Maddie McConnell. “I said, ‘Yeah I would like for you to have one.' I think we woke up too late. St. Frances is not a team you can get in a hole with and normally we can get out of holes.
“Normally, fourth quarter is our magic quarter, but we changed things up a little bit. I don’t think it worked out to our advantage — obviously by the score. I think we can play with them if we just wake up from the beginning. We’ve just got to show up first off at the tipoff.”
SFA (19-3, 9-1): A. Reese 14, A. Gourdine 11, K. Turner 11, D. Dorsey 9, J. Bannerman 9, C. Dorsey 7, A. Humphrey 7, D. Turner 5, K. Lewis 2, Z. Reynolds 2, D. Holmes 2
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SJCP (15-5, 8-4): K. Cooper 22, S. Yoda 12, J. Huskey 8, J. McNeil 6, L. Thweatt 4, N. Thweatt 3, C. Lee 2