St. Frances extends its rule 61-57 victory over Calvert Hall secures third Catholic title

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

An estimated crowd of more than 2,000 packed Goucher College's Sports and Recreation Center to see last night's Catholic League championship showdown.

It featured No. 2 St. Frances, led by All-Metro Player of the Year Mark Karcher, going for its third straight crown against Calvert Hall and All-Metro Juan Dixon, who has signed with the University of Maryland.

Neither player had his best stuff: Karcher had 14 points and seven assists, and Dixon, a game-high 23 points but no three-pointers for perhaps the first time this season. But you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who was not standing during the closing moments as the Panthers (30-6) won their third straight title, 61-57, over the No. 6 Cardinals (26-6).

Maryland coach Gary Williams watched Dixon and 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.

Shawn Hampton (18 points, eight rebounds) played a critical role for the Panthers in the closing moments, going 8-for-8 from the line and 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 the underlying story was Panthers' senior Darran Byrd (eight points), who earned the tournament's inaugural Lester T. Flynn Unsung Hero Award and had to impress coach Gary Williams with his defense against Dixon. Dixon scored only two points in the fourth period -- those coming with 11 seconds left.

Playing with four fouls, the last coming 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, he 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 at 50-50, the Cardinals then took their first lead, 51-50, since the first period 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, the Panthers 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 frantically to gain control. Aaron Herbert (16 points) threw an errant pass out of bounds, then missed an uncontested fast break layup.

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 it 58-53.

After Herbert converted two more free throws for the Cardinals, Manigault missed two foul shots. The second miss bounced to the Panthers' Reggie Bryant, who clanked a gimme off the rim.

Karcher was fouled, but made just one free throw for a 59-55 lead with 22 seconds left. Dixon then made his only points of the period, to cut the lead to 59-57.

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

Manigualt missed another free throw, but Hampton collected the rebound and was fouled with seven seconds left to play. The zTC 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," said Hampton. "We had a great season in the league, and I think we can come back and do it again next year, even without Mark."

Kevin Smith added 10 points for St. Frances, which had a 19-14 lead after one period and held a 36-35 advantage at the half.

Pub Date: 3/04/97

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