John Carroll upends No. 1 St. Frances in Baltimore Catholic League/MIAA A regular season finale; Basima and Tchilimbo shine (VIDEO HERE!)

Cesar Tchilombo (left) and Jeanot Basima helped John Carroll close the boys basketball regular season on a high note. Basima scored 23 points while Tschilimbo dominated defensively with 16 rebounds and six blocked shots as third-ranked Patriots defeated No. 1 St. Frances Academy, 64-54, in a MIAA A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League match in Bel Air.

by Derek Toney

John Carroll School was No. 1 in VSN Boys Basketball preseason Top 20. The No. 3 Patriots could be back heading into the postseason.

John Carroll knocked off top-ranked St. Frances Academy, in the MIAA A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League for both Friday evening in Bel Air. Junior forward Jeannot Basima scored 23 points for the Patriots, and Tyson Commander added 13.

The defending BCL Tournament champions established an early double-digit advantage before decisively closing out the BCL regular season champ Panthers in the fourth to finish the regular season at 19-9 overall and 12-4 in MIAA A Black Division competition. The win also secured third-place in the BCL standings (9-5) and home court in the quarterfinals in two weeks.

The Patriots, winners of nine of 10, look ready for the win-or-done season.

“For us, it’s always been how tough we are, how we handle things when it doesn’t go our way, and really how together our group is,” said John Carroll coach Seth Goldberg. “We’ve been trending in this direction of being that team we saw tonight and now our goal is continuing to do it.”

“When we started the season, no one knew their role,” said senior Cesar Tschilombo. “But as we’ve kept playing, we’ve figured out what we need from each person.”

Tchilombo, a four-year starter, did his job on defensive glass, pulling down 16 rebounds and blocking six shots. The 6-foot-9 senior flustered the Panthers around the basket, forcing them to attack from the perimeter.

Trailing by 11 at halftime, St. Frances got even at 41 on a 3-pointer from Bryce Lindsay late in the third quarter. After a couple of defensive stops, two free throws by Commander and a Basima layup off a nice feed from put the Patriots up 45-41 entering the fourth.  

The lead grew to 52-45 with 6:11 remaining in regulation after Tchilombo’s follow dunk off a Basima miss. St. Frances got it down to 52-50 after Jahnathan Lamothe’s jumper, but John Carroll answered. 

TJ Vaughn nailed a 3-pointer, a couple of feet behind the top of the arc, and Basima dropped a trifecta with 2:44 left in regulation. After a St. Frances miss, Basima finished a pass from Terry Long, giving the Patriots a 60-50 cushion with 2:12 remaining.

Basima, the reigning BCL Tournament Most Valuable Player, said the Patriots were focused on making a statement in their regular season finale. 

“We had the home advantage with a big crowd, so we had the energy on the table all the time,” said Basima. “Every possession mattered, that was the difference.”

The Panthers (31-5, 12-2 BCL) made it a two-possession game, 60-54, after Lindsay, a South Carolina commit, converted a 4-point play with 1:24 left. Another Tchilombo follow-dunk, followed seconds later with the last of 16 rebounds, secured John Carroll’s third straight victory following its only loss in the past two weeks, an overtime loss at Loyola Blakefield.

“It wasn’t perfect, obviously we know they’re (St. Frances) a great team, but I think for us, we were ready tough,” said Goldberg. “We defended at a high level and we shared the ball. If we take care of those things and enjoy playing together, the sky’s the limit.”

A week ago, St. Frances secured its fifth straight BCL regular season championship and was riding a 26-game winning streak in BCL regular season play. The East Baltimore school is limping into the postseason after a second straight road loss. 

Thursday, St. Frances held off No. 8 Loyola Blakefield in overtime on Senior Night at Phelps Gym. Friday, the Panthers got 13 points from junior Carlton Carrington and Lindsay and Cortez Johnson each had 11.

St. Frances coach Nick Myles, whose team dropped its first MIAA A Black Division decision after winning the first 15, isn’t concerned about the close to the regular season.

“I don’t think we’re tired, our opponents are playing better than we are,” said Myles. “Not being able to practice before this game hurts. We had to do pregame prep in the locker room coming off a tough overtime, so back-to-back hurts.

It is what it is. Great regular season…0-0. Now, we’re trying to win two championships.”

The postseason starts Wednesday for St. Frances and John Carroll, the top two in the MIAA A Black. The Panthers host either McDonogh School or Gilman School while John Carroll welcomes the winner of Boys’ Latin School and Archbishop Spalding. 

No. 3 John Carroll School 64, No. 1 St. Frances Academy 54

St. Frances – Carrington 13, Johnson 11, Lindsay 11, Lamothe 9, Jackson 8, Davis 2. Totals 20 7-9 54.

John Carroll – Basima 23, Commander 13, Vaughn 11, Tchilombo 9, Long 6, Snellenberg 2. Totals 25 9-15 64.

St. Frances 8 18 15 13 – 54

John Carroll 18 19 8 19 – 64