St. Frances shocks St. Joe, 46-43

Thomas' clutch foul shots send Panthers to final against Towson Catholic

Catholic League boys basketball tournament

High Schools

February 28, 2005|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Sophomore Desmond Thomas scored the last eight points in the final 2:38, all from the foul line, as St. Frances stunned top-ranked Mount St. Joseph, 46-43, in the Baltimore Catholic League semifinals last night at Loyola College.

A three-pointer by the Gaels' Greg Woody got all net but was a tad late as the buzzer sounded.

The Panthers (18-15) prevented the Gaels (29-3) from becoming the fifth team in the 34-year history of the tournament to win it three consecutive times.

"The result is very disappointing, but I'm proud of the effort our kids put forth," said Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey, whose Gaels went 13-1 in the BCL to draw the top seed and an invitation to the Alhambra at Frostburg State on March 17-19.

"Desmond made some huge free throws for them."

St. Frances advances to its seventh BCL final and will play No. 7-ranked Towson Catholic, a 58-52 winner over No. 14 Calvert Hall in the other semifinal yesterday, at 7 tomorrow night at Loyola. The Panthers haven't won the title since winning their third straight in 1997. They lost the '99 final to Archbishop Spalding.

The Panthers came into the tournament as the seventh seed after going 7-7 in league action and losing 15 games overall.

"We knew we had a good team, just had to get on track and be focused for this," said Panthers coach William Wells. "We beat an excellent team and wanted to prove that we belong in the top 10."

Towson Catholic (24-8), which last won the tournament in 1998, held off a furious second-half rally by Calvert Hall (23-13) to advance to its first BCL final since 2001, when it was led by Carmelo Anthony and lost to St. Maria Goretti.

Thomas made four of six free throws in the last 1:37 of the game, the final pair coming with 15 seconds left after a basket by the Gaels' Dino Gregory made it a 44-43 game in favor of the Panthers with 17 seconds remaining.

"I couldn't let my team down," Thomas said. "St. Joe has a very good team, well-coached, but we really wanted it."

Towson Catholic raced out to a 31-16 first-half lead by shooting 67 percent (14-for-21), while Calvert Hall hit only seven of 23 (30 percent) from the field and was out-rebounded 10-3 on its offensive end. Lawrence Nwevo and Kyle Cannon combined for 18 of the Owls' points in the half and ended up leading their team with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Calvert Hall's Ricky Harris, the BCL co-Player of the Year with Mount St. Joseph's Brian Johnson, took over in the third period, as the Cardinals outscored the Owls 21-11. Harris made three three-pointers and scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the period to shave 10 points off the Cardinals' deficit.

Towson Catholic started the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run, with four points by Ron Nicholson, who finished with 10 points.

"When they came back and got close, I wasn't worried because I knew we would come through in the end," said Towson Catholic's usually high-scoring guard Malcolm Delaney, who scored all nine of his points in the second half.

"I got into early foul trouble and our big men took over."

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