Though playing only its third game of the season, No. 7 St. Frances seemed to be feeling a bit of pressure going into yesterday's game against Forest Park.
Losing their first two games, the Panthers did not want a third consecutive defeat to start the season. They were able to avoid that, defeating the Foresters, 59-49, in the opening game on the final day of The Function at the Junction Mixer at Walbrook.
In the second of the three-game showcase, No. 8 Towson Catholic defeated Northwestern, 63-38.
The Panthers (1-2) lost their opener to Phelps High of Washington, then were routed by Walbrook, 93-67, in the opening game of the mixer Friday night.
"This is definitely nice, to get the first win," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "It is a situation that these kids who watched from the bench last season are now facing the pressure of facing the best teams in Baltimore."
One of those players, sophomore forward Orlando Ransom, led all scorers yesterday with 25 points. Michael Smith added 12. Damon Fickling led Forest Park (1-1) with 13 points. Anthony Wells added 11 and Harvey Chambers 10.
The Panthers are trying to make adjustments after the graduation of All-Metro performer Devin Gray (Clemson) and the transfers of guards Antwan Wingo and Eric Carroll to Walbrook.
In Friday's game, Wingo scored 32 points against his old team, helping the No. 3 Warriors to a rout. In that game and against Phelps, the Panthers were unable to handle defensive pressure and were unable to control the tempo. Yesterday, St. Frances dictated the tempo, pulling away late in the third quarter.
"We just wanted to break down the defense," said Phil Dixon, a senior. "We have been able to get the ball inside and just wanted to keep it going there."
Dixon, a 5-foot guard, handed out seven assists from the point. In the first two contests he was teaming with Corey Drumgold at the point and shooting guard position.
In the second half yesterday, Dixon spent much of his time just getting the ball to Ransom, who was carrying the hot hand, scoring 15 in the second half.
Ransom scored four during a 10-0 run midway in the third, increasing the Panthers' advantage to 43-28 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds remaining.
Towson Catholic (4-1) was able to bounce back from Friday's close loss to Philadelphia's Simon Gratz (46-40), ranked third in the country. Four players scored in double figures for the Owls, including 15 from James Burell. Tommy Bishop added 13 and Richard Rhinehart and Shariff Butler scored 12 and 11, respectively.
"After [Friday's] game, I was surprised to get this much out of them," said Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniels. "Northwestern was up to play us. But we were able to get a lot of guys playing time, and it turned into a positive."