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No. 1 St. Frances breezes past Pallotti in IAAM A Conference basketball for 15th straight win

St. Frances spent much of the first quarter Friday night working on ways to attack Pallotti’s tight zone. The host Panthers finally began to find ways to crack that defense in the latter part of the first period, and they took command in the second.

Angel Reese scored a game-high 25 points and had 11 rebounds, while teammate Aniya Gourdine scored 10 of her 17 points in that second quarter as top-ranked St. Frances rolled to a 63-50 victory over Pallotti in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference basketball game.

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St. Frances (17-1, 8-0) won its 15th straight and takes on No. 2 Poly on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Morgan State in the William Wells Classic.

Pallotti (15-5, 6-3), also the Panthers, has dropped both games to St. Frances this season but worked hard in each. St. Frances scored a 70-59 win when last they met, and this contest also proved to be a battle — especially in the early minutes.

The visiting Panthers took a 7-2 lead and held St. Frances to just one basket in the first five minutes thanks to that zone. During that early stretch, St. Frances repeatedly took long jump shots that missed.

“We were playing too much on the perimeter,” St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton said. “We didn’t have a middle presence [at first].”

Then, after listening to Shelton repeatedly telling them to get to the rack, the Panthers often began putting Reese in the middle and kicking the ball out for open shots on the wing.

Diamoni Dorsey (nine points) came in off the bench and made back-to-back 3-pointers, and Reese sank another one with 20 seconds left in the period for a 14-12 lead.

St. Frances Panthers forward Angel Reese (10) loses a rebound while double teamed beneath the basket by St. Vincent Pallotti Panthers' Larri Sydnor and Eniya Russell (00) during a key matchup Fri., Jan. 24, 2020. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
St. Frances Panthers forward Angel Reese (10) loses a rebound while double teamed beneath the basket by St. Vincent Pallotti Panthers' Larri Sydnor and Eniya Russell (00) during a key matchup Fri., Jan. 24, 2020. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Gourdine helped change things in the second quarter. She scored those 10 points as St. Frances held a 19-5 edge in that period and rolled to a 33-17 halftime lead.

She nailed two jumpers and two 3s, and that helped loosen the zone that caused so much trouble in the first quarter. The Panthers scored the final 13 points of the first half and never were threatened again.

“We’re very confident in our team,” Gourdine said. “We just have to stay focused.”

They focused much more on driving through the lane and either getting to the basket or causing trouble near the hoop. Overall, St. Frances finished with eight 3-pointers, which made it harder for Pallotti to play that tight zone.

“We really couldn’t get to the rack [early],” Reese said. “Once we started hitting the outside shots, it opened the middle up.”

Pallotti scored the first seven points of the second half and cut the lead to nine but St. Frances eventually pushed it to 45-30 after three quarters.

Shelton said that Dorsey’s 3s off the bench gave the Panthers a lift at different times this season. It pulled St. Frances out of an early hole in this game and gave the team some momentum.

Jania Hall led Pallotti with 17 points while Eniya Russell added 12.

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P - Russell 12, Hall 17, Waleed 2, Stangerlin 4, Larri Sydnor 7, Valentine 6, Larrin Sydnor 1. Totals: 17 12-17 50.

SF - D. Dorsey 9, Reese 25, Gourdine 17, Barnes 2, K. Turner 4, D. Turner 2. Totals: 23 8-12 63. Half: SF, 33-17.

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