No. 2 St. Frances clamps down to top No. 1 Seton Keough

Gators held to 4 points in final 3: 00, fall, 56-53

Girls basketball

January 15, 2000|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

In the waning minutes of last night's game, No. 2 St. Frances beat No. 1 Seton Keough at its own specialty -- playing the kind of defense that turns a game.

By denying the three-point shot over the last three minutes and forcing Seton Keough to work hard for two two-pointers, the Panthers pulled off the upset, 56-53, on their home floor at the College of Notre Dame.

The Panthers used a seven-point spurt to take a 56-49 lead with 1: 57 left. From that point, they froze a potent Gators' three-point attack led by Meaghan Allan, who had already hit five from beyond the arc while scoring 19 points.

"Allan really smoked us in the first half," said Panthers coach Jerome Shelton. "In those last three minutes, we did a good job not letting her get an open shot."

With Allan covered, Denise King drove for back-to-back layups to pull the Gators within 56-53 with 56 seconds remaining.

Nikki Brown did get a decent look at a three-pointer with 18 seconds to go but could not convert. Allan tried a last desperation shot from the corner with five seconds left, but Latanya Blue blocked it.

"I just put my hand up and hit the ball," said Blue, who led the Panthers with 14 points. "I didn't touch her, but I thought I was going to get called for the foul."

Instead, the Panthers celebrated their first win over the Gators in close to six years. None of these Panthers were in high school the last time St. Frances beat Seton Keough -- on Feb. 20, 1994.

"I'm just so happy we beat them," said junior Brooke Campbell, who along with senior Shanell Watson finished the game with four fouls. "We have the best teamwork and we were not losing this game. Now we're going to go all the way."

Last night's victory gives the Panthers (13-2) a slight edge in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. They improved to 7-1 while the Gators (13-3) fell to 6-1.

In a second half that featured seven lead changes, the Gators took their biggest lead of the game, 47-42, when Brown kicked a pass out to Keisha Blackwell for a 20-footer with 5: 32 left. The Panthers, however, caught up quickly when Watson fed Campbell inside and then dished out to Blue for a three-pointer.

After the teams traded baskets to a 49-49 tie, the Panthers scored seven points in less than a minute, including three on a 20-footer from Shanika Wallace, who came off the bench to contribute eight points.

"I felt it would come down to the last couple possessions," Shelton said. "Even if we got a lead, we weren't going to be able to put them away. They would make runs and we would make runs, and we got the last run at the end."

The Panthers, who converted nine Seton Keough turnovers including three in a nine-point run to end the first quarter, played as well in their half-court offense as they did on the run.

"They played our pace," said Gators coach Jim Stromberg. "We went to a zone and they didn't panic. We went up by five in the fourth quarter and they were real patient. They didn't rush. They're a great team. They won the game. It's not like we lost it."

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