St. Frances extends its rule It beats Calvert Hall for 3rd year in row in Catholic final, 61-57

March 04, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

No. 2 St. Frances continued its championship-game mastery of No. 6 Calvert Hall, taking a 61-57 victory in the Catholic League tournament final last night at Goucher College's Sports and Recreation Center.

The teams have met for the championship in each of the past three seasons. And the Panthers (30-6) are now 3-for-3 in those contests.

Last night an estimated crowd of more than 2,000 that included University of Maryland coach Gary Williams turned out expecting a showdown between a pair of fine senior guards -- St. Frances' Mark Karcher and Calvert Hall's Juan Dixon.

Neither player had his best stuff. Karcher finished with 14 points and seven assists, and Dixon, who has committed to Maryland, had a game-high 23 points, but did not make a three-pointer for perhaps the first time this season.

However, those in attendance were treated to a frantic finish that had everyone on his or her feet.

Shawn Hampton (18 points, eight rebounds, 8-for-8 from the foul line) played a critical role for the Panthers in the closing moments, crashing the boards in the absence of Calvert Hall's 6-foot-6 Gary Williams, who fouled out with 7: 08 left to play.

But it was Panthers senior Darran Byrd (eight points) who earned the tournament's inaugural Lester T. Flynn Unsung Hero Award with some impressive defense against Dixon. Dixon scored only two points in the fourth period, coming with 11 seconds left.

After picking up his fourth foul with 4: 15 left in the third period, Byrd showed great poise, particularly in the game's final three minutes when nine points were scored by St. Frances and six by the Cardinals.

"When you look back, [Byrd] was the difference tonight, I think," said junior guard David Manigault, who had seven points and five steals. "I think he came through the most out of anybody."

After Aaron Herbert's three-pointer with 1: 48 left in the third period tied the score, the Cardinals (22-6) then took their first lead, 51-50, since the first period on a free throw by Delbert Randall with 54 seconds left in the third quarter. The lead held up into the fourth.

Holding a 52-51 lead, St. Frances then stalled for more than three minutes before Karcher sank two free throws with 3: 02 left to play for a 54-51 lead.

Calvert Hall tried to regain control, but Herbert (16 points) threw a pass out of bounds and then missed an uncontested layup at the end of a fast break.

Dixon blocked a shot by Karcher directly into the hands of Manigault, who made a jumper from the top of the key to push the St. Frances lead to 56-51 with 1: 37 to play. Herbert then hit two free throws before Hampton's put-back made the score 58-53.

Herbert converted two more free throws for the Cardinals, cutting the Panthers' lead to 58-55.

Karcher was fouled, but made just one free throw with 22 seconds left. Dixon then made his only points of the period, bringing his team within striking distance, 59-57.

"We missed a couple of big layups and they were able to get some offensive rebounds on the boards when necessary," Dixon said. "We had been doing a great job on the boards, I thought, up until about the last minute."

Manigault missed his third straight free throw in the last two minutes, but Hampton collected the rebound and was fouled with seven seconds left to play. The junior sank both free throws to ice the game, 61-57.

"When the game's on the line, and it's time for connecting on a free throw, I most definitely want the ball in my hands," Hampton said. "We had a great season in the league, and I think we can come back and do it again next year, even without Mark."

The presence of Maryland's Williams didn't faze Karcher, who is considering Maryland, along with Villanova, Rutgers and Providence.

"It was no big deal playing with him here. He's a coach, like all the rest, but I think I did some other things and my teammates played well tonight, and we still won," said Karcher, who was 6-for-10 from the line and earned Most Valuable Player honors for the third straight season.

Pub Date: 3/04/97

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