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Behind Angel Reese, No. 1 St. Frances girls basketball pulls away from No. 6 McDonogh, 53-36

If you’re looking for a reason why the St. Frances girls basketball team has had McDonogh’s number in recent years, look no further than No. 10.

Angel Reese, a dominant 6-foot-3 forward headed to Maryland next season and the No. 2 overall player in ESPN’s Top 100 rankings, has given the Eagles matchup nightmares for four years — and never lost to them during her high school career.

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On Wednesday, the reigning Baltimore Sun Player of the Year put up another masterful performance, finishing with 25 points and 17 rebounds as top-ranked St. Frances pulled away in the second half for a 53-36 win over host No. 6 McDonogh. It marked the Panthers' 13th straight victory over the Eagles dating to 2015, including three wins in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference finals and one in a semifinal.

"The bigger the crowd, the better she plays," Panthers coach Jerome Shelton said. "She thrives on that and she steps her game up to another level."

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Playing in front of a raucous enemy crowd, Reese showed her repertoire, using her height advantage to make strong moves in the paint, time and again getting second shots off the glass and even knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.

“I was just feeling it tonight,” Reese said. “I knew they were going to double-team me — they’ve double-teamed me for four years — so I’m kind of used to it. My 3s were hitting tonight, and when I drew the double-team, my teammates were open.”

St. Frances (11-1, 5-0 conference) improved to 50-2 in A Conference play since start of the 2014 season.

Both of those losses came last season against Roland Park, which the Panthers will face Monday in the first of two regular-season matchups.

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In this one, McDonogh (7-5, 1-3 conference) trailed by just six points at halftime before fizzling out in the second half, as Reese and point guard Aniya Gourdine (16 points) took command from the inside and out.

"They just worked harder," Eagles coach Brad Rees said. "It was a six-point game at half, and they came out [in the second half] and just outworked us. There were a couple sequences where they just had five or six shots in a row. We just didn't do what we needed to do. They flat outworked us, and when you have the talent they have on top of that work ethic, it's tough to beat."

After graduating seven seniors, the Eagles now rely heavily on three freshmen, three sophomores and a junior to carry the load. Six-foot sophomore Nekhu Mitchell (11 points) and junior guard Jayla Oden (10 points) helped keep McDonogh within striking distance for much of the way.

Following back-to-back 3-pointers by Reese and Gourdine, however, St. Frances expanded its lead to 21 by late in the fourth quarter, ending any hopes of a late run. Despite the lopsided final, Rees said even a lopsided loss was good experience for his young squad.

"Every minute of game experience they get against teams like that, we get better," Rees said. "We'll learn. We'll grow and keep going."

St. Frances: Dorsey 4, Gourdine 16, Humphrey 6, Reese 25, Barnes 2. Totals: 19 11-15 53.

McDonogh: Mitchell 11, Swam 7, Oden 10, Quimby 6, Jenkins 2. Totals: 9 13-23 36.

Half: St. Frances, 28-22.

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