After a huge victory in its previous IAAM A Conference contest, St. Frances’ underclass-laden girls basketball team was primed for a letdown Wednesday evening at St. Vincent Pallotti.
But youth hasn’t been an excuse for the second-ranked Panthers, who continued their veteran-esque play with a 60-47 victory over No. 4 Pallotti in Laurel. University of Delaware-bound forward/center Ande’a Cherisier scored 25 points for St. Frances (14-2 overall), and Kimmya Hicks added 15.
The East Baltimore school pulled away in the fourth quarter to remain undefeated in IAAM A play at 5-0. It was the eighth straight victory for the Panthers, who knocked then-No. 1 and reigning champ McDonogh Friday evening in Owings Mills.
Wednesday was St. Frances’ 12th victory on the road, including tournaments, on the season.
“We know how to play in hostile environments and keep our composure,” said Panthers coach Jerome Shelton, whose team followed Friday’s win over McDonogh with two victories at the Chambersburg (PA) Tournament.
“When we play away and get the crowd out the game is good for us,” said Hicks.
Led by Cherisier, St. Frances silenced Pallotti’s packed student section in the final quarter. The 5-foot-9 senior scored eight points in the quarter, starting with a 3-point play to answer Arianna Harris-Mott’s quarter-opening score that pulled Pallotti to 46-45.
After Pallotti (10-3, 4-2 IAAM A) climbed to within a score at 50-47, Cherisier converted inside off a pass from Osby. She put the game out of reach, slapping the ball out of Harris-Mott’s hands on a putback attempt, and dropping a 12-foot jumper on the other end for a 57-47 advantage with 2:07 left in regulation.
Cherisier scored 15 of her 25 points in the second half.
“She’s our go-to player down the stretch. She finishes well,” said Shelton. “Basketball is a game of mismatches so we got the ball to her.”
Cherisier took advantage with Harris-Mott, a 6-4 freshman, on the bench. The Panthers, however, didn’t shy away from Harris-Mott (9 points, 11 rebounds and 9 blocked shots) when she was on the floor.
“I had to be confident and keep making shots,” said Cherisier. “We had to foul her (Harris-Mott) out the game because she was the only one causing problems.”
Pallotti, thanks to a 16-4 run, led 20-13 early in the second. St. Frances responded with a 13-3 run, capped by Sidney Sutton’s basket, to regain the lead late in the second.
Sutton, a sophomore who came up big in the fourth quarter of Friday’s McDonogh win, converted a pair of 3-point plays, pushing St. Frances’ lead to 41-32 in the third quarter. Pallotti worked its way back to within 46-43 at quarters’ end.
But after Harris-Mott’s basket put Pallotti within one to start the fourth, the hosts went cold. Pallotti missed five 3-pointers and managed two free throws from Sydney Anthony.
It was another missed opportunity for a signature win for a young and talented Pallotti squad. Saturday, Pallotti wasn’t able to close against then-No. 2 Poly, who pulled out a thrilling 54-50 decision in Laurel.
Pallotti coach Rashida Joiner said the third quarter was the undoing.
“We came out with no energy, no intensity…we were a different team from half to half,” said Joiner, who received 19 points from Anthony. “We had opportunities and did not take advantage.”
NO. 2 ST. FRANCES 60, NO. 4 ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI 47
St. Frances - Cherisier 25, Hicks 15, Sutton 10, Dorsey 4, Osby 4, Suggs 2. Totals 20 15-18 60.
Pallotti - Anthony 19, Harris-Mott 9, Edison 8, Clary 5, Jones-Howard 4, Amoateng 2. Totals 14 16-20 47.
St. Frances 13 15 18 14 - 60
Pallotti 16 12 15 4 - 47