St. Frances tops Owls, ties for lead

Senior Payne scores 31 in home finale to trip No. 2 Towson Catholic, 63-54

Boys basketball

February 19, 2000|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Playing in his final home game, St. Frances senior Tim Payne didn't disappoint, and the No. 6 Panthers kept their hopes alive for the Catholic League regular-season title, knocking off second-ranked Towson Catholic, 63-54, at the University of Baltimore last night.

Payne, a 6-foot-5 center, led all scorers with 31 points and 17 rebounds, and senior point guard Tavon McKoy added 17 points. Darnell Hopkins led Towson Catholic (24-7) with 15 points and Keith Jenifer added 11.

The Panthers (17-6) and Owls are now tied for first in the league with a 10-3 mark. St. Frances will travel to No. 9 Spalding (9-3 league) tomorrow at 3: 30. The Cavaliers' game with Loyola last night was postponed due to weather.

In the event of a tie, point differential will be the tiebreaker in deciding the league regular-season champ and the top seed for next weekend's tournament at Goucher College.

Payne, who was 19 of 23 from the free-throw line, scored six of the Panthers' final eight points to ease away in the closing moments after Towson Catholic had pulled to within 55-51 with 1: 32 left.

"We had a couple of games we felt we should have won," said Payne, whose team lost to Goretti on Tuesday night. "We just had to come together as a team. [We] played with great confidence."

The Panthers, who won four straight regular-season titles before the Owls dethroned them last winter, played inspired from the opening tip, gaining numerous second-shot opportunities. The Owls won the first meeting between the teams last month, 90-81.

"This was one of our best games of the year," said St. Frances coach William Wells. "We knew if we played a solid floor game, we would win."

The Owls were within 44-43 with 6: 19 left when Payne hit two free throws for a three-point lead. After Jenifer hit a free throw, St. Frances responded with a 9-2 run, getting seven points combined from Payne and McKoy to build a 55-46 lead with 2: 40 left.

It was a resounding victory for Payne over Jenifer in the matchup of the Catholic League's top two seniors.

In the first half, Payne had 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks against the Owls' 6-8 Jason Osborne and his backup, 6-9 Byron Joynes, while Jenifer only scored two points.

Jenifer's lone basket of the opening half was a dunk, set up by a Hopkins steal with 2: 10 left in the second quarter.

A Hopkins free throw brought Towson Catholic to within 24-21, but St. Frances closed the half with a rebound and basket by Lamont Hardy and two free throws by Payne for a 28-21 advantage.

"We didn't played well at all," said Jenifer, whose team was 7-for-19 from the free-throw line. "We knew they were going to play a box-and-one, and we needed to be patient, and we weren't."

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