With No. 6 Cardinal Gibbons suffering first-half shooting ills, junior guard Troy Queen provided the tonic that the Crusaders needed.
Queen squeezed nine of his 21 points into the first five minutes of the second half, as Gibbons outscored St. Frances by 26-13 in the third quarter and went on to a 70-51 Catholic League victory at the University of Baltimore last night.
"Queen really hurt us," said Panthers coach William Wells. "He popped out from nowhere when they weren't shooting too well. Troy had the hot hand, and he just put us away."
The victory for Gibbons improves its overall record to 14-8 and keeps it unbeaten in the Catholic League at 5-0, with games against Archbishop Curley tonight and second-place Towson Catholic on Friday.
Defending regular-season champion St. Frances fell to 4-9 overall and 1-5 in the league. But the Panthers looked like anything but a team with that kind of record throughout the first half.
In a half that had five ties and seven lead changes, Gibbons didn't take its first lead until Queen hit an eight-foot jumper in the lane with two seconds left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders shot 11-for-37 in the first half, including 0-for-7 by leading scorer Quintin Moody, who finished 3-for-17.
Gibbons didn't take the lead for good until just before halftime on a follow shot by senior forward Damon Fleary and led by 25-21 at halftime.
"Moody's shooting was off a little, and sometimes that affects the others, too," said Gibbons coach Ray Mullis. "We weren't attacking their zone right, and we weren't getting the ball inside to Chucky [Lee]."
But in the third quarter, Queen, who shot 10-for-17 for the game, lighted the spark offensively and Moody scored eight of his 13 points. The Crusaders hit on nine of 18 from the field and the defensive pressure, which caused 31 turnovers for the game, paved the way for a 47-28 lead with just under two minutes to play in the third quarter.
"Gibbons stepped up the pressure, and we sort of lost our composure," said Wells.
But the Panthers had one late run left, provided mostly by the offensive heroics of Orlando Ransom. He bunched 12 of his 21 points into a four-minute spurt that brought the Panthers within 56-47 midway in the fourth quarter.
"Nobody else but Ransom stepped up for us," said Wells.