St. Frances disposes of St. Joe’s, clinches fourth straight regular season crown; Queen scores 23 (VIDEO HERE!)

St. Frances guard Jahnathan Lamothe goes up for two of his 13 points during Wednesday’s Baltimore Catholic League basketball with Mount St. Joseph. The Panthers clinched the regular season title with a 78-67 victory in East Baltimore. (photo – Jimmy Fields Sr.)

by Derek Toney

St. Frances Academy basketball continued its march towards history Wednesday evening. But what could be more exciting for the Panthers are the coming seasons.

St. Frances completed a perfect regular season in Baltimore Catholic League play with a 78-67 decision over Mount St. Joseph at Phelps Gym in East Baltimore. Freshman forward Derik Queen had 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Panthers.

Buoyed by its underclassmen, St. Frances (13-0 overall, 7-0 BCL) never trailed against its Baltimore City rival, winning their 18th consecutive in BCL play (including playoffs). In claiming their fourth straight BCL regular season crown, the Panthers are the first team in nearly two decades to accomplish the feat.

They’ve done it, albeit in an abbreviated season, with sheer dominance. St. Frances, which won its record 11th BCL regular season title, has won all 13 starts this season by double-digits.

Panthers coach Nick Myles said it starts with practice.

“These guys are fighting for minutes everyday…they’ve been locked in,” said Myles. “You got guys coming on at the end of the season.”

“Since the first day, coach Nick has emphasized effort and energy,” said Lamothe. “You’re not going to be part of the top 10 if you don’t practice hard.”

Lamothe, a 6-foot-3 sophomore shooting guard, Queen, a 6-8 match-up nightmare, junior Cortez Johnson and freshman guard Daquan Davis accounted for 65 points in St. Frances’ biggest challenge to date.

Lamothe finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists and Davis had 13 points and five rebounds. Johnson, a 6-7 transfer from Loch Raven, contributed 12 points and four blocks.

“We have a lot of depth,” said Lamothe. “Sometimes the seniors are on, sometimes the young guys are on…everybody has the confidence to come out and know that one day is going to be your day.”

“You never know who’s night its going to be, but we continue to instill in the guys to push and celebrate each other,” said Myles.

The East Chase Street school led 37-24 at halftime, thanks to a 15-2 closing run started with a 3-pointer from Davis and featured eight points from Queen. Lamothe’s 3-pointer and Johnson’s transition score to start the second half gave the Panthers their largest advantage at 42-24.

Mount St. Joseph (10-2, 5-2 BCL), the last team to beat St. Frances, climbed to 53-42 late in the third, but St. Frances immediately answered with senior guard Byron Ireland finding Queen for a score and dropping a 3-pointer to push the lead to 58-42.

Other than Loyola Blakefield, which was within four points late in the fourth, St. Frances (won game 65-53) has had no suspense in the fourth quarter this season. The Panthers won their seven BCL matches by an average of 24 points (29.8 point differential overall).

Gaels coach Pat Clatchey, who got a career-high 25 points from senior post Sean Carr, said St. Frances has few weaknesses offensively.

“We got off to a rough start defensively, not much resistance. We were swimming upstream,” said Clatchey, who guided the Gaels to the last four-peat run in the BCL regular season from the 2002-03 to 2005-06 campaigns. “They have a lot of guys who can score and that puts a lot of pressure.”

Junior Cortez Johnson, sophomore Jahnathan Lamothe and freshman Derik Queen helped carry St. Frances to another Baltimore Catholic League regular season crown Wednesday, combining for 48 points. The Panthers host Calvert Hall Monday in the opening round of the BCL Tournament.

Myles was glad to have former Panther coach and BCL Hall of Famer William Wells in attendance Wednesday. Myles, who started as an assistant towards the end of Wells’ iconic run, is now tied with him with five BCL regular season championships.

St. Frances now sits three victories away from becoming the first team in five decades to win four straight BCL Tournament titles. The Panthers host Calvert Hall College Monday evening in the opening round.

St. Frances is firmly knocking on history’s door.

“I remember three years winning the first one and that group wanted to win for me and get to this point where we’re close to winning four in a row…we got to stay consistent and focused,” said Myles. “We can’t lose sight of our goal.”

St. Frances Academy 78, Mount St. Joseph 67

Mount St. Joseph – Sean Carr 25, Ausar Crawley 13, D’Angelo Stines 13, Bryson Tucker 13, Ace Valentine 3. Totals 26 8-10 67.

St. Frances – Derik Queen 23, Daquan Davis 13, Jahnathan Lamothe 13, Cortez Johnson 12, Byron Ireland 6, Kyrie Staten 5, Tevin Curtis 4. Totals 29 11-12 78.

Mount St. Joseph 14 10 20 23 – 67

St. Frances 22 15 21 20 – 78