No. 1 St. Frances wins thriller at BL, stretches winning streak to nine

by Joe DiBlasi

St. Frances Academy boys’ basketball coach Nick Myles has a talent rich, deep and resourceful basketball team, that knows how to win, even when the offense is not clicking on all cylinders.

These facts were evident, Thursday, as Myles’ Panthers remained undefeated in MIAA A Conference play, with a pulsating 68-65 win over No. 6 Boys’ Latin School, on the road Thursday night in Roland Park.

The Panthers (24-2 overall, 10-0 MIAA A) won their ninth straight game, and the 19th in their last 20 starts, but this one didn’t come easy.

St. Frances raced out to a 21-13 first quarter lead, and halfway through the second quarter Myles’ squad held a commanding 30-18 advantage. At the end of three quarters the Panthers were up 48-40 and their lead appeared to be safe.

But the proud Lakers (16-4 overall, 6-4 MIAA A) fought back with 25 fourth quarter points, 11 of which came from high scoring Jaylin Andrews.

Andrews hit a huge three with 11 seconds to go in regulation to pull the Lakers within one, at 66-65, as the home crowd roared.

BL fouled the Panthers’ Edward Ferguson on the inbounds pass, and in the bonus situation Ferguson sank two free throws to give the Panthers a three-point lead.

The Lakers had a chance to tie it up at the buzzer when Andrews fired up a three from the top of the key that hit the front of the rim, denying Boys’ Latin  a shot at overtime.

“The Lakers played hard. They were well prepared I knew they were going to fight and it was a great game.” said Myles. “For us, it was another team effort. We have 10 guys, and 10 guys come to work every day and we play them all. We missed a lot of shots tonight but I think we executed and some nights the shots don’t fall. We were lucky we got out of here with a win.”

Andrews led all scorers with 20 points, and sharp-shooting Cameron Spencer had 18, including four threes. Cameron Watts added 10 for Coach Cliff Rees.

Rees wad proud of his Lakers.

“We had our chances after digging a hole against a great team. Jaylin and Cam did what they’ve been doing all year making big plays for us. Our team showed a ton of heart.”

Eight different players scored for Myles.

Sophomore Adrian Baldwin lead the Panthers with 13, going 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. The Panthers were 13-for-17 from the line on the night.

Jordan Toles and Bassirou Diop each finished with 11 points for St. Frances.

Myles praised Ferguson, for his senior leadership and Baldwin for his overall play. “He’s a sensational sophomore with a great future.”

Rees, ever gracious in defeat after the heartbreaking loss, praised the Panthers.

“They show so much class and they handle themselves very well, on and off the court.”

ST. FRANCES 21 11 16 20 — 68
BOYS’ LATIN 13 13 14 25 — 65
ST. FRANCES: Jones 9, Baldwin 13, Murphy 3, Epps 7, Ferguson 6. Diop 11, Toles 11, Moore 8.
BOYS’ LATIN: Andrews 20, Grace 3, Hardway 8, Lewis 6, Spencer 18, Watts 10.