Fresh off its toughest stretch of the season, losing twice in five days and relinquishing its hold on the area’s No. 1 ranking, the St. Frances girls basketball team quickly found itself in trouble again Wednesday night against Roland Park.
In a rematch of last season's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference finals, the No. 3 Panthers made just two of their first 18 shots and trailed by nine early in the second quarter.
They badly needed an offensive spark. Sophomore Daimoni Dorsey provided it.
On a night when star center Angel Reese at times struggled shooting from the field, Dorsey, a 5-foot-8 guard, nailed four of her five 3-point attempts in the second quarter, helping St. Frances roar back with 23 of the next 26 points on their way to a 59-32 win over host No. 6 Roland Park that clinched the top seed in next week’s conference tournament.
“After the first quarter, they got a big lead, and I just knew I had to come in and hit some shots,” Dorsey said. “Angel and my other teammates got me some very good looks, and I just knocked down the shots.”
Her 15 points complemented 18 by Aniya Gourdine and 14 by Reese, the No. 2 ranked player in the nation according to ESPN who has been playing through a left high-ankle sprain for the past week.
“Everybody is coming at me and Anyia, so when they shut us down, Moni came out and hit shots that were needed,” Reese said. “We always have to have a third scorer, and its different every night. It was a great bounce back from last week.”
St. Frances (20-3, 11-1) was coming off a stretch in which it suffered losses to Poly and McDonogh over the course of five days. The week was tough both physically and emotionally for the Panthers, who were in dire need of a strong performance heading into the postseason.
After a sluggish start, they got just that.
After missing each of their first nine 3-point attempts, the Panthers hit six in the second quarter, taking a 20-18 lead on Dorsey’s 3 from the wing with just over four minutes to play before halftime.
The biggest factor, however, was their pressure defense, which forced Roland Park (14-9, 8-5) into 25 turnovers, including several that turned into easy layups at the other end. Their lead ballooned to 52-23 following back-to-back 3′s by Gourdine and Dorsey to start the fourth quarter.
"It's always important to get the bounce back," Reese said. "Being able to not let the losses stop us. This was a great bounce back from last week."
The win clinched the top-seed for St. Frances in the A Conference tournament, which begins next Tuesday. The Panthers will be shooting for their fifth straight conference championship.
The Reds, meanwhile, have one more chance, Friday at St. Vincent Pallotti, to figure things out before the playoffs. Junior Sophia Diehl led them with 10 points, and UConn signee Mir McLean, ESPN’s No. 21 player in the country, finished with nine.
“We had a game plan that we trusted in for a while, and then things started going wrong,” Reds coach Dani Steinbach said. “We have to learn how to be resilient in those moments and bounce back. And, unfortunately, a couple poor possessions for us on offense gave them the momentum, and we just struggled to get it back.”
SF — Dorsey 15, Gourdine 18, Reese 14, Barnes 2, Turner 10. Totals: 23 4-7 59.
RP — McLean 9, Simmons 4, Levine 8, Diehl 10, Franks 1. Totals: 12 6-12 32.
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Half: St. Frances, 34-21.