Calvert Hall coach Mark Amatucci had a lot to say to his team after the first quarter yesterday against St. Frances. So much that most of the crowd heard it as he gave the Cardinals a thorough tongue-lashing.
"I thought we were sleepwalking at times," said Amatucci. "It was disturbing because we acted like we weren't supposed to beat St. Frances."
And midway in the third quarter, Calvert Hall appeared to be on the verge of being blown out, but the Cardinals regrouped and posted a 60-54 victory over the visiting Panthers, in a matchup of the Catholic League's top two teams. The teams switched positions in The Baltimore Sun poll with yesterday's result, the Cardinals moving up to No. 2 and the Panthers dropping to No. 3.
Juan Dixon scored 20 points to lead Calvert Hall (12-2, 2-0) and Sam Anyan added 12. Mark Karcher led all scorers with 24 for St. Frances (12-3, 1-1). Alphonso Jones added 13.
Dixon, a slender, 6-foot-2 junior guard who St. Frances coach William Wells said afterward was the one person he didn't want )) to beat his team, scored a three-pointer with 2:26 left that gave Calvert Hall a 52-51 lead.
Dixon followed with another jumper, extending the lead to three before St. Frances pulled to within 54-52 on a free throw by Eric Payton with 1:28 remaining.
With 50 seconds left, St. Frances' Shawn Hampton drew a charging foul against Patrick Ngongba. The Panthers failed to convert and Ngongba was fouled under the basket by Hampton and made two free throws for a 56-52 lead.
Two free throws each by Anyan and Antoine Peoples in the final seconds helped seal the victory for the Cardinals and helped to avenge last season's defeat to St. Frances in the Catholic League tournament final.
"Somebody had to step up and help Sam," said Dixon, who added six assists. "It was big for us, but every game in the Catholic League is big."
Dixon's fourth-quarter heroics were buoyed by Anyan, who hit two jumpers in the final 45 seconds of the third quarter, helping the Cardinals close to within 44-40.
Anyan had given Calvert Hall a 33-28 lead earlier in the quarter with a three-pointer before St. Frances went on a 15-0 run for a 43-33 cushion with 3:03 left. But the Panthers managed only a free throw by Karcher the rest of the quarter.
"They weren't going to let us come here and go home with a win," said St. Frances' Wells. They deserved to win, but we'll bounce back."