The Pallotti girls basketball team left the University of Maryland’s RAC Arena Sunday night with regret, the exception of a pair of heart-to-hearts and a second place finish in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, the program’s first season at the varsity level.
The Panthers (17-6) will reflect upon mistakes they could have made, but left the state championship game hoping for a re-do to the fourth-quarter stretch when they managed one basket. St. Frances outlasted Pallotti, 53-45, in the title game after moving to 13-0.
Pallotti players debated on the sideline, trying to figure out why the Panthers couldn’t move the ball forward.
They knew they had just needed to convert those free throws, some of which had been waved off by officials after consultation with the bench. And even though St. Frances shot an ill-fated 5-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, it held the Panthers scoreless.
“I think that’s what stopped us,” said St. Frances senior Aniesha Brown, a Central Dauphin High product. “We had to try and make more plays to win the game.”
With Pallotti nursing a 29-28 lead at the end of the third quarter, St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton called a timeout to get the Panthers focused. But even though it made a difference, the Panthers didn’t get the message.
“We weren’t very good in the fourth quarter,” Pallotti coach Craig Taylor said. “And they were better and made more plays.”
The Panthers’ inexperience was evident at times. They fell into traps and didn’t pick up other opposing players, especially Brown and junior Kiyana Christian, the Panthers’ leading scorer with a 16.8 average.
But the Panthers also showed poise. The top scoring offense in the conference managed nine fourth-quarter points.
The Panthers took a 28-28 lead after a timeout with the score tied at 28. Junior center Tiarra Hawkins scored inside for a 29-28 advantage with 5:37 left in the game.
But the Panthers couldn’t build on that, and didn’t score the rest of the way.
Pallotti will attend the state football playoffs next week.
“The players really, I can’t fault them,” Taylor said. “We’ve been winning games. So they’ve been doing their job.”