Last season, McDonogh School boys’ basketball team needed victory in its regular season finale to secure a MIAA A Conference playoff spot. The Eagles’ postseason hopes this season may not be as stressful. 

No. 6 McDonogh School defeated 15th-ranked St. Frances Academy, 62-59, in overtime inside Lamborn Memorial Field House in Owings Mills. Senior guard Damian Chong Qui scored five of his 18 points in the extra session for the Eagles (13-4 overall) and Marquis Thornes added 15.

After relinquishing a late lead in regulation, McDonogh regrouped in overtime, solidifying its spot atop the MIAA’s Red Division (7-1). The Eagles are two games clear of second-place Calvert Hall College at their league halfway mark.

The top three teams in each division (Black is other) will advance to the postseason tournament.

“We got off to a slow start, but we stayed on the game plan,” said Chong Qui. “When it came down the stretch, big-time players make big-time plays…Marquis came up big, I knocked some down shots in regulation and overtime. It was really a team effort.”

St. Frances forced overtime as Terrell Davis hit a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation. Chong Qui opened the four-minute extra period with a trey, giving McDonogh a 58-55 lead.

Davis’ breakway layup pulled St. Frances to within 58-57 with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left in overtime, but Thornes answered for the Eagles with a basket. Eral Penn’s putback off Jordan Goodwin’s 3-point miss brought the Panthers back to a point, 60-59, with 1:07 left.

Chong Qui missed a short jumper with about 17 seconds to play, and Penn grabbed the rebound, then briefly lost the ball as Thornes and Ke’Von Brown collapsed on him. He lost control of the ball and Chong Qui grabbed it, and was fouled with 8.3 seconds left.

Chong Qui converted two one-and-one free throws for a 62-59 advantage. Brown, a sophomore, knocked the ball away as Goodwin attempted a 3-pointer and Chong Qui again grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with just 1.1 seconds remaining.

Chong Qui missed the free throw, and Penn snatched the rebound. His heave fell short of the mark. The defending MIAA A champ Panthers led 14-8 after the opening quarter, but nine points from Jaedon Willis and seven from Thornes put the Eagles ahead 30-26 at halftime.

“Our coach preaches being dialed in and he got on us after the break,” said Thornes. “We got a couple of stops and started scoring, and things turned out the way it did.”

McDonogh advanced the lead to 45-35 after three as Thornes, who will play football at the University of Albany in the fall, converted before the buzzer. St. Frances opened the final frame with 10 straight, capped with Adrian Baldwin’s 3-pointer, tying the game with five minutes left in regulation.

The Eagles led 55-51 after Chong Qui dropped a short jumper with 26 seconds remaining. Chong Qui’s traveling violation with 18.2 seconds left and Thornes’ front end one-on-one miss with 5.4 seconds gave St. Frances, down 55-52, a chance. 

After a timeout, the Panthers inbounded the ball to Davis (nine points), who buried a game-tying dagger from the top of the circle. Goodwin led St. Frances (6-9) with 13 points with Penn and Baldwin adding 12 and 11, respectively.

Monday’s loss was the fifth decided by five points or less for the Panthers, who sit at the bottom of the Red Division standings (2-4). The east Baltimore lost four MIAA A matches all last season.

“The effort has been there all year. We just have to find a way to win,” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles. “Hopefully, sooner or later so I won’t turn gray.”

McDonogh is a win away from equaling its league victory total from a year ago. The Eagles are at No. 11 Boys’ Latin School Wednesday, then a week off before a visit to Black Division leader and No. 1 Mount St. Joseph.

“We talk about making a sacrifice and our guys are buying into the philosophy,” said Eagles first-year coach TJ Jordan. “No one man is bigger than the team.”

No. 6 McDonogh School 62, No. 15 St. Frances Academy 59 (OT)

St. Frances – Goodwin 13, Penn 12, Baldwin 11, Jones 10, Davis 9, Epps 4. Totals 22 8-16 59.

McDonogh – Willis 11, Locke 13, Chong Qui 18, Thornes 15, Pickett 3, Little 2. Totals 24 15-18 62. 

St. Frances 14 12 9 20 4 – 59

McDonogh 8 22 15 10 7 – 62