In a contest critical to both teams MIAA A Conference playoff hopes, Tuesday in Laurel, host St. Vincent Pallotti held off a suddenly surging Archbishop Spalding squad, 67-64.

Pallotti (11-12 overall, 6-6 MIAA A) was seeking to strengthen its grasp on third-place in the A Conference’s Red Division and the Panthers did so by building a 14-point halftime lead and withstanding Spalding’s late surge.

Junior Stephen Cannady led Pallotti with 17 points and Everette Hammond scored 16 points. In addition, senior Justin Brewer scored 12 points for the Panthers.

Spalding’s Timmy O’Farrell matched Cannady for game-high honors with 17 points, while Buzz Anthony added 12.

Spalding (10-15 overall) lost to a chance to gain in its quest to move into the top four in the Red Division and move into a playoff spot. The Cavaliers are now 5-9 in league play and tied for fifth-place with St. Frances, both teams are one game behind fourth-place Calvert Hall (6-8).

All three teams have two league games to play, including a visit by Calvert Hall to Spalding on Wednesday night. A Calvert Hall win would eliminate the Cavaliers. Spalding’s other remaining A Conference league game is at Mount Carmel on Feb. 15. Calvert Hall’s final league game is on Friday, at home, against John Carroll.

St. Frances will play at Pallotti on Wednesday and host McDonogh on Feb. 15.