Johnson sparkles T. Catholic bests St. Frances again

Owls grab Alhambra spot by taking 69-65 triumph

Boys basketball

March 08, 1998|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After his brilliant 32-point showcase -- including 10 three-pointers -- in the Catholic League Tournament title game last Monday, it's hard to imagine Lafonte Johnson repeating such a feat.

He came pretty close last night.

The junior point guard scored 28 points, including a 15-for-15 effort from the free-throw line in the final quarter, leading No. 5 Towson Catholic to a 69-65 victory over No. 4 St. Frances, in a Catholic League playoff game at the Towson Center.

The Owls (24-9) will represent the Catholic League at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State, March 19-21.

Deone Carter added 17 points and four assists for the Owls, who will be making their first trip to Cumberland since 1993. Shawn Hampton scored a game-high 29 points for St. Frances, which had won the Catholic League championship the previous three seasons.

Johnson, 5-foot-8, had 21 points in the decisive fourth quarter, including the final eight for Towson Catholic, which avenged two regular-season losses to St. Frances.

"I know that we are a good team, and they couldn't beat us three times in a season," said Johnson, who was the tournament MVP. "We proved tonight that we are the better team."

Johnson scored the first 13 points for Towson Catholic in the fourth quarter, including a tough shot over Hampton on a drive to the basket on which he was fouled. His free throw gave the Owls a 50-42 cushion.

After a basket by David Manigault (14 points) brought St. Frances to within 54-52, Johnson hit a basket at the three-minute mark, then followed that with two free throws.

"He [Johnson] is growing as a player and a person," said Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniel, whose team made 23 of 25 of its free throws. "It's been coming together the last four or five games. But the key tonight was us keeping our focus."

Towson Catholic had a 43-31 lead late in the third quarter, but St. Frances scored 10 straight to make it a 43-41 game. The Owls' Johnson penetrated down the lane and passed to Anthony Thornton, who converted a layup.

A free throw by Hampton made it 45-42, but Johnson came back with two free throws, then the three-point play against Hampton.

"The better team won tonight," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "We made too many turnovers in crunch time. They handled the ball well."

Pub Date: 3/08/98

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