Hankins nails down win for St. Frances

No. 1 St. Frances 61 No. 2 Towson Catholic 60

Girls basketball

January 11, 2007|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,sun reporter

For St. Frances forward Mi-Khida Hankins, the waning seconds of last night's game presented the kind of moments you play for.

Her No. 1 Panthers led No. 2 Towson Catholic by two points with nine seconds left, and she was on the free-throw line. Hit both free throws and the Panthers likely would win. Miss them and the Owls would have plenty of time to recover.

Hankins, a two-time All-Metro senior, nailed both free throws to give the host Panthers a four-point cushion, enough to withstand a final three-pointer from Owls guard Candice Walker and ensure the Panthers a 61-60 win.

FOR THE RECORD - A St. Frances Academy girls basketball player was misidentified in a photo caption in the sports section yesterday. The St. Frances player in the photo is TaNika Jeffers.

"It was a little nerve-racking," said Hankins, "but I've been here before, so I just took that into consideration. I make them in practice, so I try to think of it as just another free throw."

For the Panthers (12-3, 7-0 conference), the victory was especially sweet because, even though they won their fourth straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title last season, they lost twice to the Owls (9-6, 7-1) during the regular season. The teams have just one meeting scheduled this season.

Last night, the Panthers trailed by as many as nine points late in the third quarter before outscoring the Owls 15-2 until Walker's final three pointer.

The Owls had not lost to a local team this season, suffering four losses at the Nike Tournament of Champions, which drew many of the nation's top teams to Arizona last month. Last night, however, they turned the ball over nine times in the fourth quarter.

"We played an excellent game until we started turning the ball over and letting them back in the game," Towson Catholic coach Matt Fisher said.

In the final minutes, Panthers' 5-foot-5 guard TaNika Jeffers grabbed two rebounds that led to St. Frances baskets.

Her put-back after a miss by Hankins tied the game at 57 with 3:25 to go. A minute and a half later, she grabbed a defensive rebound to start the break and hit Lakisha Walker for a 59-57 lead.

Owls Candice Walker (16 points) and All-Metro guard Marah Strickland (19 points) missed jumpers before Hankins was fouled with nine seconds left.

In a game of big momentum swings, the Panthers had the final surge thanks to two areas of the game they struggled with in Monday's 44-42 win over No. 3 Seton Keough.

"Defense and free throws," said Hankins, who finished with 20 points and hit eight of nine free throws. "We really wanted to make them [last night] and we wanted to step up our defensive intensity. That's what did it."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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