St. Frances' R.J. Williams, right, makes a 3-pointer… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
In their first three years of varsity basketball at St. Frances, point guard R.J. Williams and center Greg Lewis consistently improved their games and made greater contributions with every season.
This year, as seniors, things are different for the two captains.
This year, it is their team.
That was evident Friday night in the opening game of the Under Armour Invitational against No. 3 Digital Harbor. With Williams setting the tempo and Lewis dominating play inside, the No. 2 Panthers came away with a surprisingly comfortable 72-50 win over the Rams at St. Frances.
Williams finished with 13 points and added eight assists and two steals, while the 6-foot-8 Lewis scored a game-high 19 points and had 17 rebounds and six blocks.
The Panthers, with a talented but young cast surrounding their two leaders, improved to 3-0 on the season, while the Rams fell to 1-1.
"It's a good feeling. ... It's like it's my turn," Williams said. "I've just got to try to be a leader for my team. Greg and I are trying to step up and make everybody work as hard as us. It's our time to step."
The highly anticipated showdown between two of the top three teams in the area never materialized -- the Panthers wouldn't allow it.
In the first quarter, the home team shot 75 percent from the field -- guard Eddie Tarver (16 points) led the way with eight points -- to build a 22-9 advantage. In the second quarter, the Panthers dominated the boards and kept the Rams from getting into their transition game, building a 39-24 halftime edge.
When Lewis took an inside pass from Tarver to score with 4:56 to play in the third quarter, the Panthers had their biggest lead at 50-26. The Rams would never get closer than 14 points thereafter.
"The first half, [coach Mark Karcher] wanted us to apply pressure, play tough and try to get them out of the game early," Williams said. "I talked to the team and told them we can't have anybody come to our house and beat us, so we just had to play hard and do our best."
Shakir Brown also reached double figures for St. Frances with 16 points. Digital Harbor got 13 points from Daquan Cook and 11 from Ronald Epps.
DH--Cook 13, A. Manns 9, Kelly 6, Smith 2, Epps 11, N. Manns 1, White 6, Wraggs 2. Totals: 16 9-21 50.
SF--Tarver 16, Williams 13, Brown 16, Lewis 19, Costly 6, Forney 2. Totals: 26 14-20 72.
Half: SF, 39-24.