John Carroll School and St. Frances Academy boys’ basketball teams concluded their respective seasons Saturday with losses at the 51st Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament. As both squads make a three-hour trek from western Maryland back to the Baltimore area Sunday, they will surely reflect on how their respective seasons went in different directions.
The No. 4 Panthers dropped a 59-54 decision to St. Benedict’s from New Jersey in the seventh-place match Saturday afternoon at Frostburg State University’s Bobcat Arena. Tyler Ennis scored 16 points for the Gray Bees (13-12 overall) and Andris Misters contributed 12.
The Trenton school built a nine-point halftime advantage before hitting its free throws in the final seconds to beat the east Baltimore school for the second time this year. A top 10 national caliber program as recent as last season, St. Benedict’s lost to tournament host Bishop Walsh Friday, marking the first victory by the Cumberland school in the ACIT in 15 seasons.
For the first time, St. Frances went 0-for-Alhambra. The Panthers (19-10), the last Baltimore Catholic League program to win the prestigious Alhambra crown (1996), finished the season with four straight losses.
Loyola University-bound guard R.J. Williams scored a game-high 19 points in the finale of his outstanding career for the Chase Street school, and Greg Lewis added 12. Once 8-0 and the consensus No. 1 team in Baltimore, St. Frances went just 11-10 the remainder of the season.
The Panthers’ gradual slide could be traced back to their 63-54 loss to John Carroll in Bel Air. It was the first of four losses to the Patriots including decisions in the MIAA A Conference finals at UMBC and BCL Tournament finals at Loyola.
John Carroll’s first-ever win over St. Frances in January was the spark to a historic season that concluded with a 62-58 loss to Gonzaga (D.C.) Saturday evening in the third-place game. Ronald Scott had a memorable final game for the top-ranked Patriots from Harford County.
With backcourt mate and co-BCL player of the year Malcolm McMillan slowed by a pulled muscle, Scott finished with a game-high 33 points and eight rebounds. Trailing by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, Scott brought the Patriots back in the fourth.
A pair of three-pointers by the 6-foot sharpshooter brought John Carroll to within 52-49 midway in the fourth quarter before hitting three free throws with under two minutes left, tying the game at 54. The Eagles (28-8) from the District, whose three-year reign as ACIT champs was ended in Friday’s semifinal loss to Benedictine (VA), scored their final eight points from the free throw line.
The Patriots finished with a school-record 33 victories including the BCL crown in their first season as a league member. Their only losses came against Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champ DeMatha Catholic (in ACIT semifinals Friday), which won the crown Saturday for a record 20th time; Gonzaga (ranked No. 5 in D.C. area); reigning Pennsylvania Class 4A state champ Imhotep Charter from Philadelphia; and MIAA A and BCL rival Mount St. Joseph.
Scott and Williams were named to the all-tournament team. DeMatha’s Jerami Grant and Marcus Thornton from Bishop McNamara were selected the tourney’s most valuable and outstanding player, respectively.