In the past eight days, St. Vincent Pallotti’s No. 4 girls basketball team pushed No. 1 Poly and second-ranked St. Frances, leading at times but, with a young team, were unable to finish off their opponents.
Saturday, the Panthers showed just what they’re capable of and finally earned that signature win over a Top 5 team. They ran up an early lead and never slowed down en route to a 53-42 win over No. 5 and previously undefeated Howard at the Public vs. Private Challenge at McDonogh.
The Panthers (14-6 overall) — led by Mary Amoateng’s 18 points — snapped Howard’s 56-game regular-season win streak dating back to January 2019. The Lions (12-1) have lost only one other game since then, falling to Poly in the Class 3A state final last season. Since the start of the 2020-21 season, they have gone 56-2.
The Panthers have all the tools for an up-tempo game that can force a lot of turnovers and convert them. It’s just a matter of putting them all together for an entire game.
“I think when you take a couple of losses and you know the mistakes that you’ve made in those losses, you try to learn from those and that’s what we did today,” Pallotti coach Rashida Joiner said. “We got a good lead on them. We just stuck to the game plan. We started attacking them with dribble penetration on the offensive end and defensively, we kept up our pressure, so as long as we do the things that work, that puts us in good position.”
The Panthers have only one senior and stand third in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference behind St. Frances and defending champion McDonogh. The Lions, the defending Howard County champions, still lead their league.
Howard just could not match Pallotti’s overall speed and quickness.
The Panthers rolled to a 15-4 lead when junior wing Camryn Jones-Howard hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1 minute, 16 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Led by 18 points from Gabby Kennerly, the Lions rallied to within 27-21 when the senior guard fed 6-1 forward Meghan Yarnevich for a layup with 1:25 left in the first half. The Panthers answered with three straight baskets, Amoateng’s putback, Sydney Anthony’s layup off a steal and Amoateng’s 3-pointer from the corner for a 33-21 lead 11 seconds before halftime.
During that stretch, the Lions turned the ball over twice and didn’t manage a shot — or a rebound. Amoateng, a 5-7 sophomore guard, grabbed the final three rebounds of the half.
“Certainly they were a lot quicker,” said Howard coach Scott Robinson. “I knew they had quick hands, but there were things we did that we need to do better… They’re a great team. They’re super quick and they really hurt us on the boards.”
That was especially true late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
The Panthers ran their lead as high as 14 early in the third quarter, but the Lions cut that to 39-31 when Yarnevich fed Kennerly for a transition bucket and then hit a layup before Riley Watson, left alone on the wing, drilled a 3-pointer.
With three seconds left, Pallotti senior guard Gabrielle Clary grabbed a rebound and hit the follow shot to boost the lead to 41-31.
The Panthers all but sealed the win with a 9-3 spurt in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. Freshman forward Savannah Whitley scored five points in the run, including two free throws that pushed the margin to 50-34, the biggest lead of the game, with 4:55 left.
They grabbed nine of the first 11 rebounds in the quarter and out-rebounded the Lions, 42-31, in the game. Kennerly led the Lions with eight rebounds while Yarnevich, who got in foul trouble early and fouled out with 4:25 to go, grabbed six.
Anthony, a junior guard who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, said the Panthers know their quickness can wear down opponents.
“They were tired,” Anthony said, “so we just use that to our advantage and keep pushing the ball… This is a very big win, because last week we lost to a public school (Poly) and we made a decision this game to not lose to another public school, so we just went out hard, played our game and did everything we needed to do to put up a win.”
The teams return to league action Wednesday as the Panthers host No. 3 McDonogh, the defending IAAM A Conference champions, in a rematch of their 60-41 loss to the Eagles in early December. The Lions host Wilde Lake in their first meeting of the season.
PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE CHALLENGE
NO. 5 ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI 53, NO. 4 HOWARD 42
Pallotti — Sydney Anthony 10, Nia Grymes 2, Gabrielle Clary 7, Mary Amoateng 18, Savannah Whitley 7, Camryn Jones-Howard 5, Arianna Harris-Mott 4. Totals: 21 7-16 53.
Howard — Samiyah Nasir 8, Jenna Vetter 2, Gabby Kennerly 18, Riley Watson 3, Meghan Yarnevich 9, Oduwadamilola Iyanu Daniel 2. Totals: 15 10-12 42.
Pallotti 17 17 7 12 —53
Howard 6 15 10 11 — 42