St. Frances boys basketball coach Nick Myles entered the season with one goal in mind: Go 16-0.
The Panthers (15-0) are one step away, defeating Mount Carmel, 68-49, on Wednesday night to advance to the Baltimore Catholic League championship game. Three-time defending champion St. Frances will take on John Carroll, a 69-66 winner over Spalding, on Friday at 6 p.m. at Calvert Hall.
“The goal was to go 16-0 when we got the schedule,” Myles said. “We’re 15-0 and we just wanted to continue to work and be prepared for Friday to try to make history. It’s all that we can do — we’ll be ready, we’ll be prepared, but I don’t want to talk about it until we get there.”
St. Frances employed a three-headed attack of guards Jahnathan Lamothe and Khyrie Staten and freshman big man Derik Queen. They combined for 52 points, giving St. Frances what would’ve been enough for the win.
Lamothe is only a sophomore, but has shown the poise of a senior, according to Myles. That was evident against Mount Carmel, as he finished with 19 points. The four-star combo guard slashed to the basket and made heady plays to find Queen (16 points) on the low block and Staten (17 points) behind the 3-point arc.
“What I learned at St. Frances is that you always have to wait for your time,” Lamothe said. “Coach Nick [Myles] is going to go with the guy that’s hot. To stay on the floor, I have to defend and put the ball in the basket. That’s what I’m told to do. So, that’s what I have to do and that’s what I worked hard for in the summertime and that’s his system.”
The feeling is mutual for Staten, a Delaware State commit. The senior point guard is more than willing to spread the ball and be a team player when needed. He found himself in the zone Wednesday, scoring 10 of his 17 points in the first quarter and controlling the pace for his quick-strike offense.
“We try to feed off of each other in different ways and feed off of our connection through the backdoor [cuts],” Staten said of Lamothe. “You’ve seen that a couple of times during the game. We get the leak out, he gets the rebound and I’m going — we’re running. It’s always connections. Sometimes, I might pass to him and he’ll hit a shot. Sometimes, he might pass it to me and I’m going to hit a shot.”
St. Frances got off to a quick lead in the first quarter with Staten’s 10 points. They smothered Mount Carmel’s top scorers, holding forward Kevin Kalu to two points and Deon Perry to one point for a 19-3 lead.
Mount Carmel clawed back in the second quarter with Perry getting to the basket several times for nine points. St. Frances answered with five points each from Lamothe and Queen, and Elijah Davis and Byron Ireland added four points each to give the Panthers a 32-17 lead.
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St. Frances held a 46-36 lead to start the fourth quarter after Queen scored eight points in the third. Lamothe had a 3-pointer and a layup as well, but it was just a precursor to what he’d do in the final quarter. He started the fourth with two free throws and a 3-pointer, then closed out the victory with another layup and two more free throws.
Mount Carmel coach Trevor Quinn saw his team grow over the course of 16 games. While seniors Kalu, Perry and Toby Nnadozie led the way, freshman Andrew Dixon and sophomore Mitchell Kalu made noise throughout the season. Quinn has high hopes heading into next season after reaching the BCL semifinals in back-to-back campaigns.
“We’re just getting older and more mature,” Quinn said. “We’ve done a good job since I took the job three years ago, to having a good second year and really improving this year, I think we’ve done a good job of winning big games. As you get older, you get a new perspective.”
SFA (15-0): Lamothe 19, Staten 17, Queen 16, Reese 4, Ireland 4, E. Davis 4, Johnson 3, D. Davis 1
MC (12-4): Dixon 16, M. Kalu 11, Perry 10, K. Kalu 5, Nnadozie 5, McKinney-George 2