St. Frances slips past Mount Carmel in girls hoops debut

Jalyn Brown (left), Anani Humphrey and Aniyah Gourdine combined for 54 points Friday in St. Frances Academy’s girls basketball opener. The Panthers defeated Mount Carmel, 85-28, in East Baltimore.

by Derek Toney

The last time Mount Carmel and St. Frances Academy girls basketball teams played, both were at Stevenson University competing for an IAAM championship. Nearly a year later, the Panthers and Cougars started their truncated season Friday afternoon in East Baltimore.

St. Frances was more than ready in its return to the hardwood, routing Mount Carmel, 85-28, at Phelps Gym. Junior forward Jalyn Brown finished with a game-high 25 points for the Panthers (1-0), and Anani Humphrey added 17.

The East Chase Street powerhouse never trailed in its first contest since winning a fifth consecutive IAAM A title. The Panthers graduated Angel Reese, VSN’s Player of the Year last season, who’s now at the University of Maryland.

After months of uncertainly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Frances was in midseason form Friday.

“We’ve been patient, staying in the gym, waiting for this moment,” said Panther senior guard Aniya Gourdine.

Gourdine, a four-year starter headed to Temple in the fall, chipped in Friday with 12 points. Junior guard Ja’la Bannerman had 10 points as eight players scored for the Panthers.

“We played OK, we were a little slow getting back on defense,” said Humphrey. “More time in the gym and we’ll be alright.”

St. Frances’ on-ball defensive pressure flummoxed Mount Carmel, which turned the ball over nearly 30 times. Ahmirie Hopson led the Cougars with 14 points.

The Cougars trailed 4-3 early before St. Frances ran off 12 straight. The Panthers led, 40-14, at intermission.

St. Frances started the second half with a 14-0 run to extend the lead to 40 at 54-14. It was 65-20 after three periods.

Mount Carmel coach Rob Long said playing St. Frances gives a barometer for his program.

“We play A Conference teams competitively, but we can’t figure out St. Frances,” said Long. “Shots didn’t fall, we couldn’t break the press, couldn’t throw over the press. We got a lot of film to study.”

Long, whose team lost to St. Paul’s School in the IAAM B final last year, is excited about playing again.

“With all the rules you had to be creative and get back to grassroots…you’re grateful for something you’ve always taken for granted,” said Long. “A year or two ago, the girls complained about doing the hard work. When the gym doors were shut, they were asking for the hard work.”

St. Frances Academy 85, Mount Carmel 28

Mount Carmel – Ahmirie Hopson 14, Tsion Smith 6, Shawn Tate 6, Nylah Davis, Dania Madden 1. Totals 6 14-22 28.

St. Frances – Jalyn Brown 25, Anani Humphrey 17, Aniya Gourdine 12, Ja’la Bannerman 10, Daimoni Dorsey 9, Kimmya Hick 6, Keante Lewis 4, Dakieran Turner 2. Totals 30 16-24 85.

Mount Carmel 9 5 6 8 – 28

St. Frances 21 19 25 20 – 85