Jones may give St. Frances chance at Alhambra title Panthers would be third Baltimore team to win it

March 14, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For four years Alphonso Jones hasn't been sure if he is a point guard or a shooting guard.

As a freshman at St. Frances, he was a point guard. As a sophomore he transferred to Douglass, where he played both point and shooting guard. He returned to St. Frances last year, where he was a shooting guard full-time.

This season, the 6-foot Jones was back at point guard. The position was a question mark for the Panthers (27-4) heading into the season, but Jones has made the adjustment smoothly and quickly for the area's No. 1 team.

"It has been a lot of adjustments . . . . but it has been worth it," said Jones, a first-team all-Catholic League pick who now calls the plays instead of looking to shoot off screens or picks.

The co-MVP of the Catholic League Tournament last week, Jones will be leading St. Frances tonight at 7: 30 p.m. when it faces Archbishop Carroll of Radnor, Pa., in the first round of the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State.

The eight-team field also includes defending champ Roman Catholic of Philadelphia, ranked No. 8 in this week's USA Today poll, as well as DeMatha, Gonzaga (D.C.), Judge Memorial (Utah), St. Thomas Aquinas (Canada) and host Bishop Walsh.

Only two Baltimore schools have won the Alhambra Tournament, the 1961-62 Towson Catholic squad and Calvert Hall in its 34-0 mythical national title season of 1981-82.

Cardinal Gibbons was the last team to reach the title game, losing to DeMatha in 1988. Some feel that St. Frances has a legitimate opportunity to become the third team from Baltimore to win the championship.

"This year, we're more confident," said Jones, who's averaging 18.8 points, 7.1 assists and 6.7 steals. "Everybody is playing together. Last year, everybody was for themselves. But this year we're more confident and feel that we are a better team."

St. Frances has won 11 straight since losing to Paterson Catholic (N.J.) in the championship game of the McDonald's Classic in Erie, Pa., in mid-January. Among the wins during that streak are titles in the Southeast bracket of the Charm City Classic and the Catholic League Tournament, its second.

With a 10-day layoff after its win over Calvert Hall on March 4 in the Catholic League Tournament final, St. Frances got a chance to keep its legs fresh, beating a team of senior Catholic League all-stars at Calvert Hall on Sunday night.

Over the past two seasons, St. Frances has gone 51-9 overall and 25-3 in the Catholic League.

"Our intensity has remained the same, even in practice," said junior forward Mark Karcher, the two-time Catholic League Player of the Year. "We are just thinking about our next game, and playing in the Alhambra was our goal from Day One."

If St. Frances wins tonight, a familiar semifinal opponent could await. DeMatha (29-4), which meets Judge Memorial in a first-round game, has beaten St. Frances in the semifinals in the Panthers' two previous appearances at the Alhambra.

"The teams that will be playing are sound and know how to execute," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "What we need to do is to stay with what has worked for us. If we utilize our speed, we'll be in every game."

Alhambra

(at Frostburg State)

Thursday

Roman Catholic (Pa.) vs. Saint Thomas Aquinas (Canada), 4; Gonzaga (DC) vs. Bishop Walsh, 5: 45; St. Frances vs. Archbishop Carroll (Pa.), 7: 30; DeMatha vs. Judge Memorial (Utah), 9

Friday

Losers bracket: Roman Catholic/Saint Thomas Aquinas vs. Gonzaga/Bishop Walsh, 4; St. Frances/Archbishop Carroll vs. DeMatha/Judge Memorial (Utah), 5: 45

Winners bracket: Roman Catholic/Saint Thomas Aquinas vs. Gonzaga/Bishop Walsh, 7: 30; St. Frances/Archbishop Carroll vs. DeMatha/Judge Memorial (Utah), 9: 15

Saturday Consolations, 3, 4: 45, 6: 30; Championship, *: 15

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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