No. 1 St. Frances beaten

McDonogh pulls upset, 65-61

Towson Catholic wins

Girls basketball

February 09, 2007|By Glenn Graham and Katherine Dunn | Glenn Graham and Katherine Dunn,Sun Reporters

The McDonogh girls basketball team enjoyed a breakthrough effort yesterday, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

On their home floor, playing against No. 1 St. Frances on a day they celebrated their seniors, the No. 5 Eagles counted on hot perimeter shooting to build a first-half lead and poised play in the final minutes to pull off a 65-61 upset over the defending Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference champion Panthers.

Senior guard Brittany Mallory scored a game-high 25 points - including six of the Eagles' nine three-pointers - junior point guard Becky Cox added 19, and senior forward Annie Politsch hit a jumper with six seconds left to secure the four-point win.

The Eagles (19-4, 13-3 conference) handed the Panthers (20-4) their first league loss after 15 straight wins. The Panthers, however, get the top-seeded berth in the X bracket of the A Conference going into next week's tournament.

In another A Conference game last night - this one with tournament seeding implications - No. 2 Towson Catholic built a double-digit third-quarter lead and went on to beat No. 3 Seton Keough, 48-42.

The win clinched first place in the Y bracket for the Owls (17-6, 15-1). Had the host Gators (20-4, 13-3) won, the top spot would have been decided by a coin flip.

At McDonogh, Mallory, a two-time All-Metro selection who is set to play at Notre Dame next year, said: "This was just an all-time great game. The whole year, we've been up and down with our shooting. But with the senior-night thing and all that, I think we realized it could be our game."

Mallory hit a three-pointer with 3:23 left in the second quarter to give the Eagles (48 percent from the field) their biggest lead at 27-17. With St. Frances senior TaNika Jeffers scoring 11 of her team-high 17 points in the third quarter, the Panthers stayed close and took a 61-60 lead when Mi-Khida Hankins had a steal and layup with 2:01 to play. But the Eagles did the rest of the scoring, getting two free throws from Mallory, another from Cox, and then the clinching basket from Politsch.

McDonogh coach Tom Gizzi, who continually saw his Eagles on the losing side of close games against the league's best teams in recent years, hopes yesterday's win can carry over into next week's playoff run.

"We were able to fight through and hopefully the monkey is off our back," he said. "You can tell them over and over that they can do it, but until it happens there's that mental block. This was an unbelievable team effort."

Jeffers said there was a lesson to be learned on the Panthers' side as well.

"It's a wake-up call. We know we have to come out with more intensity at the start of the game before we get down by 10 points," she said.

At Seton Keough, the Owls ran their lead to 12 with the first nine points of the second half.

They were up 41-30 midway through the fourth quarter and Tyler Hale, Marah Strickland and Candice Walker finished the scoring from the free-throw line, where the trio went 17-for-19 for the game.

Strickland, last season's All-Metro Player of the Year, scored her 2,000th career point with her first basket and went on to a score 18. Hale added 12, going 10-for-11 from the free-throw line.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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