St. Frances aims to cap season with 1 more title

March 16, 1995|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

Having already won the Catholic League regular-season and tournament titles, No. 3 St. Frances will try to finish its season on a strong note at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State.

Tonight at 9, St. Frances (22-4) will play St. Benedict's of New Jersey in the quarterfinals. Its next opponent could be DeMatha, either in the semifinals or in the loser bracket on Friday. DeMatha, which was ranked No. 1 in the preseason by USA Today and Street & Smith's, is currently ranked No. 4 by the Washington Post.

The eight-team tournament includes some of the country's top private schools like Roman Catholic of Philadelphia (24-4), ranked No. 21 in this week's USA Today Super 25, and Bishop McNamara (23-10) and Good Counsel (23-5), ranked Nos. 9 and No. 10 respectively by the Washington Post.

"The kids are anxious to play," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "I hope we can win. They have told me they're going to win."

After clinching first place for the regular season on Feb. 12, St. Frances didn't play for close to two weeks, but had little problem capturing the tournament championship. Other than a game with a team of senior Catholic League all-stars last week, St. Frances hasn't played in 18 days.

"Not being able to play has made our practices against each other even harder," said senior point Keon Chavez. "We play together and do what we've got to do to win."

The last Baltimore team to win the tournament was Calvert Hall during its 34-0 national championship season of 1982, led by sophomore Duane Ferrell.

Mark Karcher, considered to be the best sophomore in the Catholic League since Ferrell, won the regular season and tournament MVP for the Panthers. His scoring in the paint, complemented by the outside shooting of junior guard Alphonso Jones and Chavez's leadership and defensive toughness, have been keys to the Panthers' success.

"I think they are very good, the more I've seen them," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage, whose team lost twice to St. Frances during the regular season. "They have gotten better and better as the season went on. They are very capable."

In January, St. Frances appeared ready to run away with the Catholic League with a 6-0 record, before suffering a three-game losing streak that included blowout losses to St. Maria Goretti (77-61) and Calvert Hall (86-63).

That streak proved to be a turning point, though, in the Panthers' season.

"We started looking at things and realized that we had something to prove," said Wells, referring to the slide that began with a 77-74 loss to Laurel Baptist. "This team has really come together and can play with anybody."

ALHAMBRA INVITATIONAL

at Frostburg State College

TODAY

Quarterfinals

Good Counsel vs. St. Matthew's (Canada), 4 p.m.; Roman Catholic (Pa.) vs. Bishop McNamara, 5:30 p.m.; DeMatha vs. Bishop Walsh, 7:30 p.m.; St. Frances vs. St. Benedict's (N.J.), 9 p.m.

TOMORROW

Losers bracket

Good Counsel/St. Matthew's loser vs. Roman Catholic/Bishop McNamara loser, 4 p.m.; DeMatha/Bishop Walsh loser vs. St. Frances/St. Benedict's loser, 5:30 p.m.

Semifinals

Good Counsel/St. Matthew's winner vs. Roman Catholic/Bishop McNamara winner, 7:30 p.m.; DeMatha-Bishop Walsh winner vs. St. Frances/St. Benedict's winner, 9 p.m.

SATURDAY

7th-place consolation 4 p.m.; 5th-place consolation, 5:30 p.m.; 3rd-place consolation, 7:30 p.m; championship, 9 p.m.

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