St. Frances junior guard Khyrie Staten came from nowhere to sneak behind an Oak Hill player to track down a loose ball, then whipped it across the court to find teammate Adrian Baldwin for a 3-pointer.
The hustle play in the third quarter wasn’t the first or last Saturday, but best exemplified what had been the case all game long at the East Coast Bump showcase: The Panthers wanted the game more than the perennial national power from Virginia.
St. Frances made Baltimore proud and did so in convincing fashion at UMBC’s Event Center, getting 22 points from senior forward Jamal West and 20 more from Staten to roll to a stunningly comfortable 80-61 win over one of the country’s most prolific teams, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation.
St. Frances, ranked No. 16 in the nation by ESPN and No. 22 by MaxPreps, will soon move up after improving to 31-3 on the season, while Oak Hill fell to 33-3.
“It was a lot of effort — a lot of effort,” West said. “Everybody gave it, everybody brought it and that’s what made the game a lot easier and more fun. We had a good time out there and everybody was doing what we had to do.”
The Panthers stated their case early Saturday — playing aggressive defense and confidently on offense — taking hold of the game from the start and never letting go.
When West slammed home an inside feed from Baldwin with 3:15 to play in the first quarter, they already had all five starters in the scoring column for a 13-7 advantage that would extend to 22-11 by the end of the quarter.
The quality inside-outside play continued in the second quarter. Byron Ireland opened with a 3-pointer, followed by two more inside baskets from West. Taion Robinson’s basket with just over one minute to play provided the biggest lead of the first half at 39-22. West, who had 10 points in the half, went inside right before the buzzer to put the Panthers up 41-27 at the break.
The third-quarter play from Staten and Baldwin typified the focus and determination the Panthers maintained throughout the second half with the lead growing to 30 points early in the fourth quarter.
“The kids played hard and I give them the credit,” St. Frances coach Nick Myles said. “As far as St. Frances basketball — it’s a huge win. Oak Hill is a national power, a national brand, and for us to win in convincing fashion is great for our program.”
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The Panthers have welcomed all challenges this season — with two of their losses coming against nationally ranked IMG and Kansas power Sunrise Christian Academy — as they prepare to defend their Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Baltimore Catholic League championships. They close out their regular season next week, traveling to Loyola Blakefield on Wednesday before hosting Mount Saint Joseph on Friday.
In the event opener, Rock Creek Christian held off New Hope, 73-67, in a battle between Prince George’s County rivals.
Rock Creek got a game-high 24 points from Kyree Freeman-Davis, while Isaac James and Jaylen Hall scored 18 points for New Hope to share team-high honors.
SF – Baldwin 12, West 22, Ireland 7, Reese 11, Staten 20, Lamothe 4, Robinson 2, Davis 2. Totals: 30 13-14 80
OH – Robinson 6, Maddox 12, Jones Jr. 4, Johnson 2, Okpomo 14, Thomas 19, Exewiro 3. Totals: 20 14-17 61