St. Frances beats DeMatha, advances to Alhambra final 54-47 win sends Panthers to first championship game

March 16, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FROSTBURG - St. Frances coach William Wells enjoyed a chat with legendary coach Morgan Wootten of DeMatha while their teams waited for the conclusion of the early semifinal game at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament last night at Frostburg State College.

Over the years their histories at the tournament have been a contrast. DeMatha had reached the final in 18 of the last 19 years while St. Frances had never made it past the semifinals, losing both times to DeMatha.

The Panthers wrote a new chapter last night.

The area's top-ranked team advanced to the championship game for the first time, defeating DeMatha, 54-47.

The Panthers will play Gonzaga, ranked No. 10 by the Washington Post, in tonight's 9: 15 p.m. championship game. Gonzaga upset defending champion Roman Catholic (Pa.), ranked No. 8 by USA Today, 65-64 in overtime.

Junior forward Mark Karcher led St. Frances (29-4) with 21 points and senior guard Alphonso Jones added 12. Keith Bogans led DeMatha (30-5) with 17.

"When the game got going we started to believe that we could play with them," said Karcher. "Everybody played with intensity and it showed."

The last time a Baltimore team reached the finals was 1988 when Gibbons lost to DeMatha. St. Frances will be attempting to become the first Baltimore team to win a championship since the 1981-82 Calvert Hall mythical national title team.

Unlike Thursday night when St. Frances struggled for a 80-77 victory over Archbishop Carroll of Philadelphia, the Panthers played with emotion and intensity last night, though there were some tense moments down the stretch.

Leading 50-45 with 2: 33 left St. Frances missed the front end of the one-and-one on three straight possessions. DeMatha could only manage two free throws to close to within 50-47 with 33 seconds left.

Jones converted two free throws with 24 seconds left which was followed by two more from Karcher to secure the win.

"I really thought they were focused enough to win tonight," said Wells. "To beat a team like DeMatha is a great honor."

ST. FRANCES Karcher 21, Jones 12, Dantzler 2, Hampton 5, Payton 10, Beauford 4. Totals: 20 12-18 54.

DEMATHA Bogans 18, Martin 7, Oliver 2, Meiners 8, Pegues 4, Day 5, Harris 3. Totals: 17 6-13 47. Halftime: 25-25

Pub Date: 3/16/96

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