St. Frances upends No. 2 McDonogh behind Reese’s late surge (VIDEO HERE!!)
by Nelson Coffin
There were moments in Friday’s girls basketball showdown between No. 1 St. Frances Academy and second-ranked McDonogh School, when the Eagles’ five-guard alignment was taking a toll on the Panthers.
For instance, asking 6-foot-3 St. Frances star Angel Reese to cover a guard sometimes made for an advantage that McDonogh exploited during its runs in the second and third quarters and early in the final period.
The flip side of that coin, however, was felt in the game’s final four minutes when Reese, who was also covered by a guard, closed out the Eagles with her prowess in the paint and on the foul line.
The sophomore sank an 8-foot jumper from just inside the foul line to snap the game’s 11th and final tie to give her team a 54-52 lead and then secured the victory by making seven-of-nine free throws — left-handed, mind you — down the stretch to secure a 68-54 victory to keep the Panthers (11-4 overall) unbeaten in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference (3-0) while halting the Eagles’ 13-game winning streak.
Reese said that because her right wrist is double-jointed, thus making her right-handed free throws less accurate than she would like, she decided to go southpaw from the charity stripe — and the move paid off, big-time, in the late going.
“I shoot between 50 and 100 free throws at practice every day,” said Reese, who totaled 13 points in the fourth quarter and a game-high 24 for the game.
Still, Reese was happy to deflect praise to freshman guard Amiya Gourdine, whose 14 points and aplomb when bringing the ball up court against McDonogh’s full-court press was a key component of the triumph.
“Amiya played great,” Reese said. “She hit some big shots for us.”
McDonogh coach Brad Rees’ team seemingly had no answers for Reese on the defensive end of the court.
“Angel is a great player,” he said. “And St. Frances presents a lot of tough matches because they are so long and athletic. She got to the line (too often). We haven’t given up 68 points in a long time.”
McDonogh still made a battle of it throughout the contest until going cold from the field in the final minutes.
After the Panthers raced to a 17-8 lead, the Eagles (13-2, 4-1 IAAM A) bounced back in contention by employing a superior stroke from behind the three-point arc with senior guard and leading scorer Taleah Dixon (16 points) connecting twice and junior guards Jessica Booth and Treasure Valdez once each in the second quarter to shave the Panthers’ lead to 32-29 at the intermission.
Junior Aleah Nelson knocked down another three-ball in the third quarter for McDonogh, and teammate Jayla Oden hit from that distance in the third and fourth quarters. The Eagle freshman guard’s final bomb from the corner gave the Eagles their last lead with six minutes, 37 seconds remaining in regulation.
A minute later, Michigan State-bound guard Nia Clouden’s drive deadlocked the score before Reese went to work in a decidedly decisive manner.
That said, Reese knows the season still has many hurdles ahead.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We can play better defensively.”
NO. 1 ST. FRANCES ACADEMY 68, NO. 2 MCDONOGH SCHOOL 54
MCD 8 21 14 11 — 54
SFA 17 15 12 24 — 68
MCDONOGH SCHOOL: Taleah Dixon 16, Aleah Nelson 7, Treasure Valdez 6, Jessica Booth 8, Kayla Liles 6, Jayla Oden 11. TOTALS: 17 12-19 54.
ST. FRANCES ACADEMY: Angel Reese 24, Savawn Hughes 5, Aniya Gourdine 14, Delicia Pinnick 2, Taneara Moore 12, Nia Clouden 11. TOTALS: 24 17-27 68.