HAGERSTOWN — Facing a 13-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, St. Maria Goretti’s boys basketball team clawed within six with four minutes left, but that’s when the wheels fell off.
St. Frances drained 11 of 13 free throws down the stretch, staving off the Gaels’ rally for a 56-42 Baltimore Catholic League victory Friday night.
Goretti coach Amrit Rayfield hadn’t planned on starting to foul the Panthers quite so early, but St. Frances (15-6, 9-3) slowed things down and the Gaels (13-9, 4-7) were “overly aggressive” according to Rayfield in their attempts to force the issue.
After an 8-8 tie through one period, Goretti went four minutes without scoring midway through the second quarter and trailed 26-18 at the half. A pair of 3-pointers by Kevin Proctor kept things from getting even worse for the Gaels.
“Our defensive pressure was pretty good tonight,” said Panthers coach Nick Miles. “We got good production from our bench. Our bench was big tonight.”
Daquan Cook kept the Gaels at bay in the third period, scoring six of his game-high 18 points to offset the 3-point shooting of Tyrus Fleetwood and Gavin Rajahpillay.
But taking their shots from beyond the arc wasn’t exactly what Rayfield wanted to see.
“We try to work the ball from inside out,” said Rayfield. “I thought we started settling too much for jump shots.”
The inside game served Goretti well in the first quarter, as leading scorer Yannick Zanfack scored six of his 11 points in the opening eight minutes. But the Gaels were unable to get the ball down low with any consistency after that.
“(The Panthers) understand he’s our leading scorer,” said Rayfield. “They did a lot of different things to force him out of his comfort zone.”
Still, the forward was the only Goretti player to reach double figures.
The Panthers’ defensive pressure forced Goretti into 17 turnovers, compared to just 10 for St. Frances.
“We just had too many turnovers at inopportune times,” said Rayfield, “and they have the athletes to make you pay.”
JV: St. Frances, 41-37 (SF: Michael Munir 8; SMG: Ameka Akata 17).
St. Frances Academy 56, St. Maria Goretti 42
ST. FRANCES (15-6, 9-3)
Forney 4, T. Costley 4, Cook 18, Lee 6, Wells 4, Herd 6, Akins 2, A. Costley 5, Warren 7, Totals 21 12-15 56.
ST. MARIA GORETTI (13-9, 4-7)
Proctor 9, Fleetwood 7, Rajahpillay 5, Geben 6, Zanfack 11, Blake 4, Totals 16 5-9 42.
St. Frances 8 18 13 17 — 56
Goretti 8 10 10 14 _ 42
3-point goals—St. Frances 2 (Lee 2). Goretti 5 (Proctor 3, Fleetwood, Rajahpillay). Fouled out—Goretti (Blake).