St. Frances boys basketball team was shaken, but not deterred after losing twice to Mount St. Joseph during the regular season.
Sunday, the Panthers authored the latest entry in Baltimore high school basketball’s top rivalry. No. 2 St. Frances defeated the top-ranked Gaels, 78-75, in overtime for the MIAA A Conference championship in front of 3,500 at UMBC’s Chesapeake Employees Insurance Arena.
Senior guard Jahnathan Lamothe finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for the Panthers (28-9 overall), and University of Pittsburgh recruit Carlton Carrington added 24. Junior forward Tyonne Farrell led Mount St. Joseph (35-4) with 25 points.
The East Baltimore school received several yeoman-like efforts to complement another big showing from its Power 5 backcourt to win its first MIAA A championship since 2019.
A year ago, the Panthers, who dominated the league regular season, left their home court in a daze after a stunning opening round loss to Gilman.
Sunday evening, they danced and celebrated on UMBC’s hardwood after denying Mount St. Joseph a place in MIAA A history.
“I told some of these kids back in their freshman year you want to go out a winner,” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles. “No matter what happens next week we won a championship and beat St. Joe. The kids played hard and that’s all we can ask for.”
“We put a lot of hours in scouting this week and this is what we planned to do,” said Lamothe, holding the MIAA A championship plaque, “so we came out and did it.”
The Panthers did it behind a relentless effort, featuring 19 second half and overtime points from the powerfully built 6-foot-4 Maryland-bound Lamothe, who surpassed the 1,000-point barrier on the season. Carrington, a 6-4 gazelle, finished with 5 rebounds and a team-high 3 assists.
But St. Frances’ first postseason title since winning a third straight Baltimore Catholic League Tournament crown in 2020 may be remembered for Jordan Downs and Benjamin Brown.
Downs, a junior, scored nine points Sunday including a key 3-pointer late in regulation. Brown scored eight second half points, matching Gaels’ star post Amani Hansberry, who dominated in Mount St. Joseph’s 82-64 victory a couple of weeks ago in Southwest Baltimore.
“We just stayed the course. We didn’t give up,” said Downs. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We wanted it more.”
“We’re in the same situation last year, we went on a 2-0 run in the regular season and they beat us when it mattered,” said Brown. “The tables turned. We were more physical and didn’t give up.”
After five lead changes, Carrington got a shot over Hansberry to fall, giving St. Frances a 76-75 lead with a minute left in overtime. The Gaels missed on a drive, and Carrington converted two free throws with 15.2 seconds remaining.
Mount St. Joseph looked for the equalizer, but Panthers sophomore guard Tyler Jackson got a hand on Sean Clark’s 3-point attempt. Farrell got the ball out of the air and called timeout with four seconds left in overtime.
Farrell inbound the ball to Valentine, whose 25-foot attempt hit the front of the rim and the Gaels’ attempt to become the first team to win three straight outright MIAA A championships was over.
“You dreamed of this moment from the time the season starts,” said Carrington, who scored six points in the extra session. “We had to leave it all out there.”
Trailing by 10 points at halftime, St. Frances got its first lead since the opening quarter as Carrington converted on a drive for a 57-56 advantage with 5:30 left in regulation. The Gaels regained the lead, 60-57, before Brown, off a pass from Carrington, drained a 3-pointer, pulling the Panthers back even.
Lamothe tied it at 62 after a hard spin move in the lane. After a Mount St. Joseph miss, Downs put St. Frances up, 65-62, with a 3-pointer off a helper from Carrington with 2:19 left in regulation.
Carrington answered a Farrell’s follow-up with a short jumper, making it 67-64 with 1:31 left. The Gaels tied it as Hansberry fired a pass across the court to Ace Valentine, who nailed a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:31 to play in regulation.
Carrington regained the lead, 69-67, dropping a jumper over Valentine with 50 seconds left. Hansberry converted inside and was fouled with 32.2 seconds remaining, but missed the free throw for the 3-point play.
Hansberry atoned, swiping away Carrington’s attempt off a hard drive with two seconds left. After a Gael timeout, Hansberry threw a halfcourt inbound pass to Farrell, whose desperation attempt fell short, creating the first overtime in the MIAA A title game since 2018 (John Carroll vs. Boys’ Latin).
It didn’t look that way early as Mount St. Joseph had a 36-25 advantage with 2 minutes left in the opening half after Joseph Green stole the ball from Jackson and went in for an uncontested layup. Hansberry, filling the lane, got a pass from Valentine and finished with a one-handed slam, giving the Gaels a 40-30 halftime lead.
The Panthers opened the second half with a 9-0 run, starting with Brown’s 3-pointer, to close to within 40-39. Mount St. Joseph, which weathered every St. Frances’ push, led 55-49, entering the fourth.
But the nationally-ranked Gaels, who’ve won three straight over St. Frances, were unable to put their rival away Sunday.
“St. Frances got some unexpected performances, unlike the first two games and they kept battling,” said Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey, whose team’s 19-game winning streak was snapped. “It’s disappointing, but it’s a long season and you’re not going to win every game.”
Hansberry, who will play for Illinois next season, finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists. Valentine, playing on his future college court at UMBC, had 16 points and 6 assists.
Last season, St. Frances swept the Gaels in the regular season, only to see Mount St. Joseph claim the Baltimore Catholic League Tournament title. The squads could meet for a fourth and final time this season, next weekend at the BCL tourney at Goucher College.
“This feels good. I wanted to leave out with my guys with a championship,” said Lamothe, “but I want one more.”
MIAA A CHAMPIONSHIP
at CEI Arena/UMBC
NO. 2 ST. FRANCES 78, NO. 1 MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 75 (OT)
St. Frances - Lamothe 30, Carrington 24, Downs 9, Brown 8, Jackson 7. Totals 28 12-13 78.
Mount St. Joseph - Farrell 25, Hansberry 18, Valentine 16, Abrams 10, Green 4, Hall 2. Totals 29 11-14 75.
St. Frances 14 16 19 20 9 - 78
Mount St. Joseph 20 20 15 14 6 - 75