No. 1 St. Frances handles Loyola; Baldwin scores 12 (VIDEO HERE!)

St. Frances’ Emmanuel Balogun defends Loyola’s Bennett Gioioso during Friday night’s MIAA A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League basketball contest. The No. 1 Panthers won their 10th game of the season with a 65-48 decision over the No. 15 Dons at Knott Hall in Towson.

by Derek Toney

Loyola Blakefield and St. Frances Academy have played some thrilling basketball matches inside Knott Hall the last several seasons. Only two points (St. Frances 342, Loyola 340) separate the teams over the five previous meetings.

The latest match Friday was an entire different story. The top-ranked Panthers defeated No. 15 Loyola, 66-48, in a MIAA A Conference/Baltimore Catholic League play. Junior guard Adrian Baldwin scored 12 points for St. Frances (10-1 overall), and Jordan Toles and Jamal West each finished with 10.

The defending Baltimore Catholic League champ Panthers seized control early, building a 31-point advantage as they remain undefeated in BCL (5-0) and MIAA A (6-0) play. Loyola (6-6 overall) fell to 3-4 in MIAA A play, 1-4 in BCL.

Last February, Loyola handed No. 1 St. Frances its first loss in MIAA A and BCL play with an 81-8o double overtime victory. The win also ended the Panthers’ 14-game winning streak.

St. Frances senior guard Rajier Jones said the difference Friday was focus.

“I think last year we kind of let up once we got a lead,” said Jones, the reigning BCL Defensive Player of the Year, who’s committed to Chicago State University. “Staying focused and disciplined.”

“The guys have grown up. We have a veteran team,” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles. “We start two seniors who’ve been through the wars and three juniors.”

West and Toles, both juniors, scored six points as St. Frances led 13-6 after one quarter. Baldwin, last season’s BCL Tournament Most Valuable Player, scored all 12 of his points in the second quarter as the east Baltimore school extended the lead to 21 points at intermission.

The Panthers led 56-25 after three quarters. Jones finished with nine as 10 players scored for St. Frances. Fischer scored 13 of his game-high 15 points in the second half for Loyola, which lost its third straight.

St. Frances travels to New York City Sunday for a match with Brooklyn (NY) College Academy at the City Legendz Invitational at St. Raymond’s in Brooklyn.

No. 1 St. Frances Academy 66, No. 15 Loyola Blakefield 48

St. Frances – Baldwin 12, West 10, Toles 10, Murphy 8, Jones 9, Staten 4, Busby 3, Alexander 2. Totals 27 6-10 65.

Loyola – Fischer 15, Moore 8, Smith 5, Staukalis 2, Young 1, Reynolds 2, Hepting 4, Giogoso 9. Totals 18 6-13 48.

St. Frances 13 21 22 9 – 65

Loyola 6 7 12 23 – 48