The third showdown of the season is coming between the St. Frances and Mount Saint Joseph boys basketball team on Sunday for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.
To get there, St. Frances defeated John Carroll, 98-71, in an offensive and defensive clinic Thursday. St. Frances pestered the Patriots offense, holding John Carroll and All-Baltimore Catholic League guard Tyson Commander to just three points in the first half. Though the sophomore star ended with 15 on the night, it was too little, too late.
“As soon as he put the ball down low, I tried to steal it,” St. Frances’ Khyrie Staten said. “I got a couple of steals off of that. He made some tough buckets on me and I’ll give it to him.”
Staten and Jamal West both scored 18 points, part of six players in double figures for the Panthers. Adrian “Ace” Baldwin displayed his ability to create his own offense in the second half as well, scoring seven points early in the half and passing the ball with precision. West attributed the flow of the offense to being able to pass effectively.
“When we move the ball around, it creates good offense,” West said. “So, we just look for the open man and take what the defense gives us. He’s [Baldwin] a great point guard. We just go with what’s working and everyone just plays off of it. Byron was hot and we kept finding ways to get him the ball. When they loaded up on him, he dumped it off. It just makes it easy.”
The early quarters were a hard-fought affair, with John Carroll pulling within just three points at the end of the first quarter, 25-22. Patriots guard Jalen Bryant led the quarter with 10 points and finished with 23.
In the second quarter, St. Frances’ defense led the charge, holding John Carroll to just seven points in the quarter. Panthers forward Julian Reese manned the middle, blocking shots and getting putbacks to put his team up 39-29.
From that point forward, St. Frances dominated.
West had 11 of his 18 points in the third quarter alone. Baldwin had seven points. Ireland had 11. Eventually, St. Frances held an insurmountable 79-51 lead after the third quarter.
John Carroll played the game close early on, but St. Frances constantly pulled away. Patriots coach Seth Goldberg said his team showed a lack of consistent aggressiveness that has been a problem all season.
“I think we are who we are. That’s probably the best thing that I can say,” Goldberg said. “We came out flat, just not attacking the way that I wanted us to attack, and once we got over that, we played. We battled and had our moments.
“We were inconsistent tonight — that’s just the best way to say it, but as I told my guys in the locker room, doing what we do and really enjoying it, we’re as good as anybody. We’ve just got to do it the entire game.”
St. Frances will take on Mount Saint Joseph for the A Conference title on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Harford Community College. Panthers coach Nick Myles is looking forward to the challenge ahead for his team.
“Great team. They always execute well — we’ve got to be prepared,” Myles said. “We’ve got to be ready to play hard and to play energetic and my job is just to get us prepared to play on Sunday at 5:30.”
SFA (35-3, 19-1): K. Staten 18, J. West 18, B. Ireland 15, A. Baldwin 12, J. Lamothe 11, J. Reese 10, A. Roye 8, E. Davis 6
Latest High School sports
JC (22-11, 12-8): J. Bryant 23, J. Basima 16, T. Commander 15, T. Vaughn 5, B. Meads 3, T. Long 2, C. Tchilombo 2