A welcome letter in the front of the 34th Baltimore Catholic League tournament program has stirred up the St. Frances Academy community since the Panthers won the championship game Wednesday night, 57-48, over Towson Catholic.
The letter reads that "the tournament champion will represent the Baltimore Catholic League in the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Frostburg, Md."
St. Frances won it, but the Panthers - the fifth seed after going 7-7 in league play and 19-15 overall - will stay home.
"We were told before the championship game that Mount St. Joe and Towson Catholic had been invited, but the letter makes it awkward to explain to our parents and kids," said Sister John Francis Schilling, the St. Frances principal. `The letter has caused a lot of confusion."
BCL commissioner Jack Degele took the blame for not having that part of the letter removed and said: "It should have been taken out, because the ACIT invites who they want. It's their tournament, and they reserve the right to take who they want. I'm sorry for any misunderstanding."
Mount St. Joseph (29-3, 13-1), the regular-season BCL champion, and Towson Catholic (24-9, 10-4), the regular-season runner-up and winner of both league games over St. Frances, will play in the 45th Alhambra at Frostburg State University March 17-19.
This will not be the first time the BCL's tournament winner did not get a berth, but it is the first time that Alhambra organizers invited two teams, and neither won the BCL event.
"It's my job to put people in the stands," said Joe Carter, the ACIT's general chairman, "and not to take anything away from St. Frances because they got hot at the right time, but people would look at their record [19-15] and wonder if they deserve to be here."