No. 1 St. Frances tops Western, 55-46

Panthers avenge last year's four-OT loss

Basketball

High schools

December 31, 2005|By TODD KARPOVICH | TODD KARPOVICH,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Top-ranked St. Frances finally gained "redemption" against No. 6 Western, topping the Doves, 55-46, in the championship game of the Panther Invitational Tournament.

The win helped the Panthers erase some of the memories of last year's semifinal loss in four overtimes to the Doves (5-1). The victory, however, didn't come easily as Western cut a 19-point second-half deficit to six points with two minutes left .

The Panthers (10-0) then buckled down and made their free throws down the stretch to seal the win. St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton downplayed the significance of avenging last year's loss, but he admitted that game resonated with his team.

"Revenge is the weakest form of motivation," Shelton said. "For us, it is more of redemption. It is more atoning for the loss last year and correcting the mistakes that we made. We put ourselves in a position to win the game."

Junior guard Dawnae Roberts led the Panthers with 14 points and three rebounds, sophomore Kandice Green had 12 points and center Mi-Khida Hankins scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Zhondria Benn led Western with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

After a sluggish opening quarter, the Panthers began to find their rhythm and methodically build a lead against the Doves. With one minute left in the third quarter, St. Frances led 45-26 and it appeared the Panthers could coast the rest of the way, but Western refused to quit and slowly began to chip into that margin.

Freshman guard Akeema Richards came off the bench to help fuel the comeback, scoring four of her five points early in the fourth quarter. With a little more than two minutes left, Ebony Dennis' three-pointer cut the St. Frances lead to 48-42.

The Doves appeared to have come within four points with less than a minute to play, but a basket by Richards was not allowed because of a charge. That call sent the Western fans in the bleachers into a frenzy.

"I have to give my team credit," Western coach Tiffany Silver said. "They were down by almost 20, but they never folded. I am proud of the way they fought back."

Shelton said he expected Western to keep coming at the Panthers despite the deficit, but he was proud of the way his team responded.

"We knew they were going to make a run," Shelton said. "They are a good team and there is no quit in them. We just tried to hold serve and kill some of their momentum. I told the kids we just needed to make a few baskets and would be able to win the game."

Boys

No. 2 Towson Catholic 67, Canby (Ore.) 59 -- Juniors Donte Greene and Malcolm Delaney combined for 37 points as the Owls (12-3) improved to 2-1 in the Les Schwab Tournament in Portland, Ore., to advance to the consolation championship game. Greene had 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, and Delaney had 19 points, three assists and three rebounds.

Sun reporter Pat O'Malley contributed to this article.

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