As he held the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament championship trophy in 2020, St. Frances’ Jahnathan Lamothe, then a freshman, thought more postseason titles were ahead. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way, but Lamothe has a final shot to add a championship to his resume.
No. 2 St. Frances defeated fifth-ranked Mount Carmel, 89-84, in a MIAA A Conference semifinal match in East Baltimore. University of Pittsburgh-bound guard Carlton Carrington posted a game-high 31 points for Panthers (27-9 overall) , with Lamothe adding 18.
St. Frances inched out to a double-digit margin in the second half before withstanding a late push from the Cougars (21-13) to advance to Sunday’s championship game at UMBC’s CEI Arena. The Panthers will face top-ranked Mount St. Joseph, which eliminated No. 9 Archbishop Spalding, 70-56, in the other semifinal Thursday.
Lamothe was a reserve in 2020 as St. Frances won a third straight Baltimore Catholic League Tournament championship. He stood in the back, hoisting the Brother D. John Smith Trophy in the team picture following the awards ceremony.
Lamothe, a starter, helped the Panthers to a perfect regular season in a shortened BCL campaign due to COVID-19 in 2021. St. Frances was upset by John Carroll, in the tournament final, ending a bid for a record fourth straight championship.
Last year, the Panthers were stunned by Gilman in the opening round of the MIAA A playoffs. St. Frances rebounded to reach the BCL Tournament final, only to lose to Mount St. Joseph after sweeping it during the regular season.
It’s now or never for Lamothe, who will play for Maryland next season.
“It feels good…We want to redeem ourselves,” said Lamothe, who added 5 rebounds and 4 assists Thursday. “We were supposed to be in this position last year so it’s good to be back playing championship basketball.”
Lamothe along with backcourt mates Carrington (6 rebounds, 3 assists) and sophomore Tyler Jackson (21 points) made the plays down the stretch Thursday to help St. Frances hold off Mount Carmel for the third time this season. The Panthers, up 11 early in the fourth quarter, led 83-80, after Andrew Dixon’s score with 47 seconds remaining.
Jackson converted two one-and-one free throws with 35.6 seconds left for a 85-80 advantage. Carrington got a piece of a Mount Carmel shot, and Jackson was fouled with about 25 seconds left. Jackson missed the front end, but Lamothe got the ball and put it back in the basket, giving St. Frances an 87-80 lead with 20 seconds left in regulation.
“Those three guys (Carrington, Jackson and Lamothe) offensively are the key. We had guys do the little things…we need those little things, but the three-headed monster is what we’ve been all year. We’re going to try to will a championship.”
Carrington broke a 59-59 deadlock late in the third with a basket off an assist from Lamothe, who got a pass from his senior mate and drained a 3-pointer for a 64-59 advantage. Jackson connected from behind the arc as the Panthers had a 71-62 lead entering the fourth.
Two free throws by Carrington gave St. Frances its largest advantage, 73-72, but Mount Carmel, looking for a return trip to the MIAA A final, fought back. Cougar senior forward Mitchell Kalu had a pair of scores off offensive rebounds, the latter part of a 3-point play, closing the margin to 83-78 with 1:19 left in regulation.
After a Panther miss, Dixon drove to the basket and scored, making 83-80. Mount Carmel, which lost to St. Frances, 75-65 and 76-71, in back-to-back matches a couple of weeks ago, couldn’t push through.
Dixon (3 steals) led Mount Carmel with 23 points, and Mario Tatum added 17. Kalu and Scott each finished with 13 points.
Cougars coach Trevor Quinn said Lamothe’s late rebound and score was huge.
“I didn’t think we rebounded as much in the second half. They got second and third opportunities and capitalized,” said Quinn, whose team is a combined 0-5 against St. Frances and Mount St. Joseph this season “We haven’t been able to finish games in the last few minutes against those guys.”
It will be Round Three Sunday between St. Frances and Mount St. Joseph, which has won the last three meetings. The Panthers won both regular season decisions last season before the Gaels captured the BCL Tournament title.
“We haven’t given our best effort so far. We will be prepared Sunday,” said Miles. “I can’t tell you the score, but we will be prepared.”
“The last time we played in the MIAA A championship, they (Mount St. Joseph) beat us in my freshman year,” said Lamothe. “We have to play together…if we come out fast and play defense, we can win.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL
NO. 2 ST. FRANCES 89, NO. 5 MOUNT CARMEL 84
Mount Carmel - Dixon 23, Tatum 17, Kalu 13, Scott 13, Reid 12, Mordi 5, Sinigoj 1. Totals 32 13-16 84.
St. Frances - Carrington 31, Jackson 21, Lamothe 18, Mebane 9, Downs 4, Farooq 4, Brown 2. Totals 31 18-20 89.
Mount Carmel 23 19 20 22 - 84
St. Frances 24 17 30 18 - 89