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No. 1 St. Frances boys basketball pulls away from No. 4 John Carroll, 73-58, in Baltimore Catholic League rematch

No. 1 St. Frances boys basketball had stretches where it wasn’t at its best Wednesday, a credit to visiting John Carroll. But the Panthers, with a lot of added motivation and a balanced effort, had the longer stretches of strong play — particularly at the end — to pull away for a 73-58 win over the Patriots.

In a rematch of last year’s Baltimore Catholic League title game — when sixth-seeded John Carroll pulled off an improbable upset against top-seeded and undefeated St. Frances — the Panthers had five players reach double figures in a game circled on their calendar.

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Sophomore guard Daquan Davis led the way with 20 points as St. Frances improved to 16-2 on the season. John Carroll, which got 19 points from Jeannot Basima and 18 from Tyson Commander, is 5-5.

“Good win — all wins are good,” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles, who added that his team played flat during stretches. “I’m proud of our guys. I told them we got to prep to play better. You’re only accepting a win, you’re not accepting losses. But John Carroll is the league champs and anytime you get a win against the league champs is a big win.”

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The Panthers started strong and finished stronger. They opened with a 9-0 lead and held a 16-7 advantage after one quarter, with Davis’ seven points the catalyst.

But the visitors were able to settle in behind a 19-point second quarter, with Basima scoring seven points and Commander hitting a 3-pointer for the Patriots’ first lead, 24-23, with 1:49 to play in the half.

The Panthers reclaimed a 28-26 halftime lead and increased the advantage to 52-43 after three quarters on Rynell Bert’s full-court 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer.

St. Frances saved its best for last. Leading 62-58 with 3:07 to play, the Panthers scored the final 11 points to pull away for the win. Freshman guard Tyler Jackson, who came off the bench to score 11 points, scored on a baseline drive with 2:44 left. Junior guard Carlton Carrington (11 points) followed with a jumper on a second-chance and Davis hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 69-58 with 1:04 left.

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“I thought we played hard, but I thought we could have played better,” Davis said. “We normally play fast with tempo, but they slowed us down and then we were able to work through that and get our shots off. We’ve got to be able to play through some adversity and that’s what we did to get the win.”

What was the difference in the closing minutes?

“We picked it up way more at the end of the game,” Davis said. “We started scoring more, playing defense and getting up the court and I thought that helped us win the game.”

John Carroll associate head coach Jeremy Mellady saw plenty of positives from the Patriots, but a couple untimely lapses proved the difference against a quality team.

“Outside the first two minutes of the game, we played together the right way, the way that we work on it,” he said. “I like our chances against anyone when we play that way and we’re lucky we have good kids that play together, are willing to share the ball, move it and they stay connected on the defensive end. When we do that, we’re tough. But it was just the start of the game and a couple of lapses here and there during the rest of the game when we didn’t do that and St. Frances is a good team. They’ve got good players and they’re going to make you pay any time you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.”

Senior guard Bryce Lindsay added 12 points for the Panthers, while Cortez Johnson added 10 points and eight rebounds.

JC — Commander 18, Basima 19, Tchilombo 7, Vaughn 5, Romain 2, Long Jr. 7. Totals: 22 6-7 58

SF — Carrington 11, Lindsay 12, Johnson 10, Davis 20, Lamothe 2, Bert 3, Robinson 4, Jackson 11. Totals: 26 13-20 73

Half: SF, 28-26

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