No. 1 St. Frances earns 56-51 win

Girls basketball

High Schools


For most of last night's game at McDonogh, No. 1 St. Frances struggled with its perimeter shooting, but with about six minutes left and her team trailing, Dawnae Roberts drilled a 20-footer to ignite a spark within the Panthers.

Less than two minutes later, TaNika Jeffers hit another three-pointer to tie the game. Ma-Khida Hankins and Roberts combined to go 10-for-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch as the Panthers pulled out a 56-51 victory over the No. 2 Eagles in Owings Mills.

"They were real big three-point shots," said Hankins, a 6-foot-1 forward who scored a game-high 23 points and had 11 rebounds. "We really needed those. The main thing is we wanted them to keep their confidence and keep shooting the ball."

Panthers coach Jerome Shelton agreed that the two three-pointers were the turning points of the fourth quarter.

"I told the kids to keep working through their shot frustration and stay positive and keep looking at the basket and the shots will fall," said Shelton. "After the shots fell, our defense picked up a little bit at the end, our rebounding and, of course, we made our free throws to really put us in a position to win."

Those factors - and the Eagles missing four three-point attempts in the final three minutes - helped the Panthers close out a tough road victory in a tight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference race. The defending champion Panthers (3-0 overall and conference) had trailed from midway through the second quarter until Jeffers' three-pointer tied the game at 42 with 4:13 left.

Hankins hit two free throws with 4:03 to go to give the Panthers the lead for good at 44-42, but the Eagles, with a handful of three-point shooters, never fell out of striking distance. The Eagles (1-3, 1-2) stayed within four points until two Roberts' free throws sealed the St. Frances victory with less than a second remaining.

The Panthers' man-to-man defense did a good job on the Eagles' three-point shooters, especially Brittany Mallory (18 points) and Becky Cox (16 points). Cox hit the only three-pointer down the stretch to pull the Eagles within 48-47 with 1:55 to go.

"Give St. Frances credit," said McDonogh coach Tom Gizzi, whose team split with the Panthers last season. "They have a group of girls that know how to finish games, and we could not extend our two-basket or three-basket lead into double digits. I think if we had that ability to do that in this game, the outcome may have been a little different."

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