No. 1 St. Frances girls take IAAM A conference title

Panthers hit the boards hard for comeback victory, 60-53

February 21, 2010|By Katherine Dunn | Baltimore Sun reporter

When you play the No. 1 St. Frances girls basketball team, it's all about the rebounds.

Archbishop Spalding countered that strength early in today's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A ƒ|Conference championship, running up a 14-point lead, but the Panthers literally rebounded their way back to a 60-53 victory over the No. 3 Cavaliers at UMBC's RAC Arena.

In the first half, Shirae Swinson (10 ƒ|points, 10 rebounds) and Shaquila Curtis (18 points, six rebounds) boxed out the taller Panthers (22-3) and kept Briana Hutchen, who had 37 rebounds in the two regular-season meetings, from dominating. In the second half, however, Hutchen picked up her rebounding and got help from teammates Jonelle Britt, Tionne Evans and Morgan Hodges.

"You could tell they were sending two or three bodies at me, because I had had such multiple rebounds against them last time," said Hutchen, a 6-foot senior. "It seemed like our weak-side rebounding wasn't there in the first half, but in the second half they really stepped up and were there to get the rebounds."

The Cavaliers (21-5) took a 29-15 lead midway through the second quarter on a 16-3 run in which they out-rebounded the Panthers 14-3. The Panthers chipped away at the lead for the next 12ƒŠ1/2ƒ§ minutes before Britt's follow shot gave them a 44-42 lead with 5:59 left in the game.

Spalding coach Bookie Rosemond said the first few possessions of the second half were critical.

"We missed our opportunities," Rosemond said. "We had an eight-point lead and we needed to make something happen the first three possessions and they made it happen. It went to a three-point game, and you could feel the momentum start to slip right then and there."

Turnovers hurt the Cavaliers early in that third quarter and again with a minute left in the game. After Hutchen, who finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, hit two free throws to boost the lead to 53-48 with a minute to go, Spalding turned the ball over twice and had to resort to fouling.

Hutchen and Shatyra Hawkes (18 points) combined to hit seven of eight free throws in the final 28 seconds. The Panthers finished 24-for-30 from the line, which gave them the edge because Spalding hit four more field goals.

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