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St. Frances girls basketball rolls past Roland Park, 79-40, in IAAM A Conference title game rematch

St. Frances' Angel Reese, left, goes up to shoot against Roland Park's Mir McLean in the first half.
St. Frances' Angel Reese, left, goes up to shoot against Roland Park's Mir McLean in the first half. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

St. Frances girls basketball coach Jerome Shelton made a request to his team before Monday night’s game against visiting Roland Park. Shelton told his Panthers that they hadn’t played well in the first half this season, and he wanted to see that change.

The players honored his request. Daimoni Dorsey scored 20 points and Angel Reese added 19 as top-ranked St. Frances jumped to a big early lead and rolled to a 79-40 victory over No. 5 Roland Park in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.

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This was a rematch of last year’s conference title game. Roland Park won the A Conference regular-season title before St. Frances edged the Reds in the championship game, but the Panthers quickly removed all doubt Monday.

St. Frances (13-1, 5-0) scored the game’s first seven points and raced to a 17-2 lead. The Panthers forced nine Roland Park turnovers in the opening quarter en route to a 22-5 edge.

St. Frances remained in control the rest of the way.

“I challenged them to play a better first half,” Shelton said. “The intensity level was there at both ends ... there was exceptional ball pressure.”

The Panthers made it very difficult for Roland Park (8-6, 3-2) to find any room to shoot. That ball pressure was a big reason the Reds finished with 26 turnovers and just 13 baskets.

Reese helped St. Frances to the big first-quarter lead before Dorsey kicked things into another level when she came off the bench late in the quarter. She drilled five long 3-pointers in six minutes, the last of which gave the Panthers a 39-14 lead with 2:32 remaining in the first half.

“I was just feeling it,” Dorsey said. “My teammates got me a lot of nice passes, especially from Angel.”

St. Frances held a 44-18 halftime lead and opened things up even more with a 13-point run in the first part of the third quarter. The Panthers kept up the defensive pressure as someone always hounded a Roland Park player with the ball, which that threw off the Reds until Shelton started emptying his bench late in the third quarter.

“Once we had them, we just had to keep going at them, and we did,” Dorsey said.

Aniya Gourdine added 12 points for St. Frances, letting the Panthers finish with three players in double figures.

Mir McLean led Roland Park with 16 points despite sitting out a good chunk of the first half after picking up two early fouls. Sophia Diehl added 11 points as the Reds offense opened up a bit in the second half.

The Reds came out a little flat early and that, combined with the tough defense St. Frances played, was a big reason they were never in this game. Roland Park kept having problems moving the ball around and finding high-percentage shots.

That, combined with the turnovers and the way the Panthers repeatedly drove to the basket or found open 3-pointers, let the Panthers take command and break the game open.

“We weren’t ready to play on the defensive end and rebounding,” Roland Park coach Dani Steinbach said. “We just got beat.”

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R- McLean 16, Simmons 6, Norris 2, Diehl 11, Franks 3. Totals: 13 10-15 40.

S- D. Dorsey 20, Gourdine 12, K. Dorsey 2, Bannerman 2, Humphrey 6, Reese 19, Holmes 4, Lewis 9, Barnes 3, D. Turner 2. Totals: 30 10-12 79.

Half: S, 44-18.

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