Freshman Myah Simmons is a role player for the top-ranked Roland Park basketball team. Thursday night at St. Frances, it turned out to be a pretty big role.
With most of the St. Frances football team on the baseline not exactly cheering her on, Simmons hit the first of two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to break a tie and give the visiting Reds a 58-57 victory over second-ranked St. Frances in a key Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference showdown.
Mir McLean led Roland Park with 23 points, while Ja’Niah Henson added 21 for the Reds (20-1, 12-0 A Conference).
“We shoot free throws with confidence, and that’s what she did tonight,” said Roland Park coach Dani Steinbach. “She’s a freshman, but she played like much more than a freshman tonight.”
The win, the second over the Panthers (14-3, 10-2) this season, puts Roland Park squarely in the driver’s seat in the A conference. The Reds have now swept both St. Frances and McDonogh, their two leading competitors in the league.
“I think this is what we needed,” Henson said. “This shows what we are capable of, and it shows that we can win a game like this.”
The Reds broke open a tight game just before halftime, going on a 6-2 run in the last 1:25 of the half to push their lead to 37-32 at the half.
They extended the lead early in the third quarter, using a jumper, a layup and two free throws all by Henson, and a layup by McLean to go on an 8-2 run and build a 45-34 lead with 3:31 left in the quarter.
The Panthers weren’t done, however. St. Frances used four points by Angel Reese and baskets by Daimoni Dorsey and Anani Humphrey to cut the margin to 42-49 after three quarters.
The Panthers continued to chip away and finally took the lead, 56-55, on a Savawn Hughes layup with 2:11 left. The Reds responded, getting a layup by Christyn Robinson with 1:58 left to reclaim a 57-56 lead.
The teams exchanged empty possessions before the Panthers Hughes was fouled with 4.7 seconds left. She made the first shot, but missed the second, tying the game at 57-57.
After the miss, there was a battle for the rebound, which fell to Simmons. An immediate foul by Hughes set up Simmons with a chance to win the game. Panthers coach Jerome Shelton called a time out to try and ice her. But, even with the St. Frances fans making lots of noise, Simmons hit the first of two free throws.
A last-second, full-court heave by Reese fell short, giving Roland Park the win.
“It was kind of shocking,” Simmons said. “There were a lot of nerves, but my teammates stood behind me. I’ve never been in a situation like that, but everyone had my back. It was a great feeling.”
Steinbach said the win was a big one for the Reds.
“It’s always tougher on the road,” said Steinbach. “We knew it would be a battle, and we knew they would come back. We just beat the best team in Baltimore City, and I couldn’t be prouder of my team right now.”
Roland Park 58, St. Frances 57
RP – McLean 23, Henson 21, Simmons 6, Ferariu 3, Levine 3, Robinson 2. Totals: 58. Totals: 24 13-20 58.
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SF – Gourdine 20, Reese 14, Hughes 7, Turner 3, Humphrey 7, Hinton 4, Dorsey 2. Totals: 22 11-18 57. Halftime: RP, 37-32.