Late arrivals insert zest in St. Frances' win party

February 21, 1996|By Bob Clark | Bob Clark,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Mark Karcher and Alfonso Jones were a little tardy for top-ranked St. Frances' game at Loyola yesterday. But when Panthers coach William Wells finally allowed his two standouts into the game they made up for lost time.

Both Karcher and Jones scored 24 points and led an up-tempo 93-74 win by the Panthers over No. 9 Loyola that clinched at least a tie for the Catholic League title. St. Frances is 23-4 overall and 9-1 in the Catholic League. Loyola dropped to 20-8 and 6-5.

It was 5:59 p.m. when Jones and Karcher arrived at Blakefield after having trouble getting a ride to the game, but a foul-plagued fourth quarter of the junior varsity game delayed the start of the varsity matchup to nearly 6:30.

Karcher made his first appearance with 3:51 to go in the first quarter. He quickly fed Eric Payton for a layup and a resulting three-point play and then keyed a fast-break finished by Darren Byrd, who made the most of his starting shot with 12 first-half points. Byrd's basket gave St. Frances a 13-6 lead with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

Shortly after that, Jones made his first appearance and the tempo stepped up even more as the Panthers crammed six points into the final minute for a 19-8 lead after one quarter.

"When they came in, we went to another level," said Wells. "They are the heart and soul of this team, but we got some real good efforts from some other people, too."

Darryl Dantzler and Shawn Hampton scored 10 each, giving the Panthers five players in double figures.

Loyola, which hit on only 3-for-14 from the floor in the first quarter, finally got warm from outside in the second quarter, but 9-for-16 Dons shooting spurred by 13 of Jason Vogtman's 24 points still couldn't slow down the Panthers.

Jones finished the first half with 13 and Karcher had nine as St. Frances went to halftime with a 47-35 lead.

In less than four minutes of the third quarter the lead had increased to 58-41 after a turnaround jumper in the lane by Jones and Loyola never got closer than 11 points after that.

"This was the first time all season that we lost back-to-back games," said Loyola coach Jerry Savage. "But St. Frances is playing its best basketball now. Karcher is a big-time player and so is Jones."

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