Cyndi Cole said she hasn’t felt any pressure being a freshman starter for St. Frances Academy’s girls’ basketball team. She was definitely calm and collected in the clutch Monday evening against McDonogh School.

The unranked Panthers outlasted the No. 4 Eagles, 52-51, in overtime, in an IAAM A Conference contest in east Baltimore. Cole and Tyshell King each scored a game-high 16 points for St. Frances (3-7, 1-1 IAAM A). Tiersa Winder led all scorers with 20 points for McDonogh (9-3, 1-1 IAAM), and junior Taylor Cummings added 12.

Cole’s two free throws with 52 seconds remaining in overtime proved to be the difference as McDonogh missed on two opportunities in the final seconds for the victory. Cole scored 10 of her 16 points over the closing 12 minutes of play.

“There’s no pressure, just play,” said Cole, who’s the first freshman to start at point guard under longtime Panthers coach Jerome Shelton.

Trailing 50-48, Cole took a pass from King and drained a jumper from on the three-point line to pull the Panthers even. St. Frances forced an Eagle turnover, and Cole dropped two free throws for the lead.

Winder made it 52-51 with a free throw for McDonogh with 48 seconds left. Candice Hendricks stopped Panthers forward Adreonia Coleman’s drive to the basket, regaining possession for the Eagles.

After missing a shot with about 20 seconds left, McDonogh gained possession and called a timeout with 13 seconds to play. Hendricks missed a short jumper in the lane and Bailey Ewing got the rebound, but wasn’t able to get the ball back at the rim. The Panthers secured the loose ball as time ran out.

The Eagles led 46-42 after two free throws by Taryn Durant with a minute left in regulation before Cole responded with a jumper. St. Frances got the ball back and called timeout with 15 seconds remaining. King drove towards the basket and dished off to a waiting Cole who converted from about 15 feet with three seconds left to force overtime.

“I was on fire so they kept feeding me the ball until the other team stopped me and they couldn’t,” said Cole.

“It’s good to get a freshman involve in our offense,” said King, a senior captain. “Her shots were obviously falling so she was our go-to player.”

It’s only the second win in the last nine games for St. Frances, which has won seven of the last eight IAAM A championships. Hit hard by graduation, the Panthers are leaning heavily on underclassmen like Cole.

“She shoots the ball with a lot of confidence,” said Shelton. “She’s starting to demonstrate more leadership on the floor, and it’s helping us from the top down.”

While St. Frances is finding its way, McDonogh continues to struggle with its veteran roster. The Eagles trailed 17-7 after the opening quarter, prompting coach Brad Rees to sit his starters and watch his reserves help guided them back in front.

“We’re not playing real smart basketball, turnovers, wasted possessions; our big kids didn’t come up big tonight,” said Rees, whose team hosts No. 1 Archbishop Spalding Wednesday evening in Owings Mills. “What’s real frustrating is what we saw tonight is things we’ve been doing all year and been trying to get corrected.

When you play a good team, it’s going to kill you. That’s what happened tonight and that’s what’s going to happen the rest of the season.”