Top-ranked St. Frances slips past No. 2 Spalding

In girls showdown, Panthers prevail, 47-42 No. 1 St. Frances has enough to turn back No. 2 Spalding

January 06, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The St. Frances girls basketball team proved that even its less-than-best effort is sometimes good enough.

Senior point guard Kia Coady scored a game-high 19 points as the top-ranked Panthers rebuffed a stiff challenge from No. 2 Archbishop Spalding to win a 47-42 decision in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference matchup at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore yesterday.

St. Frances persevered despite connecting on just 15 of 57 shots (26.3 percent) from the field and scoring just six points in the third quarter.

"We didn't play our best and we know that Spalding didn't play their best game today," said Coady, who also recorded three steals and two assists. "It just makes us work harder to be up for the competition."

The sophomore pair of guard Shadae Swan and forward Angel McCoughtry posted nine points each for the Panthers, who improved to 6-0 in the conference and 8-3 overall after losing to two New Jersey teams in a tournament during the holiday break.

"I thought we responded well to those two losses," coach Jerome Shelton said. "I think both teams can play better though. I know we can certainly play better."

The Cavaliers (10-4 overall and 5-1 conference) suffered their first league loss by committing too many turnovers and giving up too many offensive rebounds.

The Panthers stole the ball 15 times and forced another 10 turnovers. They also grabbed 29 rebounds, 11 of which came off the offensive glass.

"They're quick off their feet, and it's hard to contain them," said Archbishop Spalding senior forward Kylie Bestul, who led her team with 10 points and 12 rebounds. "It's all stuff that we can fix."

Although St. Frances enjoyed a 30-25 lead at halftime, the Panthers struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the third quarter, missing 15 of 18 shots in the period.

The Cavaliers weren't much better, missing nine of 10 shots in the quarter and scoring just three points.

Every time Archbishop Spalding tried to mount a comeback in the final quarter, St. Frances answered with a few baskets to keep the Cavaliers at bay.

But the momentum seemed to swing toward Archbishop Spalding when McCoughtry drew her fifth foul for tangling with Cavaliers junior forward Lizzy Bayly on a rebound with the Panthers nursing a 42-34 advantage with 3:57 left.

After Bayly made one of two free throws and Swan converted a steal into a layup, Archbishop Spalding made its move.

First, freshman guard Katie Latonick dropped in a layup. Senior guard LaToya Strong then drained a three-pointer from the top of the key and connected on a layup through the lane to close the gap to 44-42.

Bestul had a chance to tie the game at 44, but her layup rimmed out and rolled out of bounds. Coady then enticed freshman guard Stacy Hunt into fouling her while attempting a three-point shot.

Coady hit all three free throws, and sophomore guard Nija Bastfield blocked Latonick's attempt from behind the three-point arc to seal the victory for St. Frances.

Although Latonick and Strong both contributed eight points, Strong had a quiet afternoon courtesy of a solid defensive strategy by Swan.

"I just wanted to keep the ball out of her hands," Swan said of Strong, who posted three assists and two rebounds. "If she doesn't have the ball, she can't do anything."

Cavaliers coach Deb Taylor said she was pleased to see that her team was just Bestul's basket away from tying the game.

"We had the situation we wanted," Taylor said. "We had the ball and a chance for the two [points], but we didn't make it."

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