[Baltimore Sun] No. 3 St. Frances boys basketball wins at No. 5 McDonogh, 50-42, behind Josiah LeGree’s strong 4th quarter

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Over the years, St. Frances boys basketball has consistently had a senior who boldly tackles the challenge of taking over a game at crunch time.

This season, it’s often fallen on Josiah LeGree and he’s proving just fine in the role.

After host McDonogh took away the momentum in the third quarter to make it any team’s game in the fourth, LeGree ensured it belonged to the Panthers.

In a decisive two-minute stretch midway through the quarter, the standout guard converted a 3-point play, hit a 3-pointer and found teammates for two more 3s. Order was restored for No. 3 St. Frances, which went on to claim a 50-42 win over the No. 5 Eagles in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference Red Division play.

In the balanced performance, Cameron Fleming finished with 12 points, Maddox Jarzynski hit three 3-pointers to finish with 11 and LeGree finished with 10 in a fine all-around game.

St. Frances improves to 22-10 and 10-4 in the league, while McDonogh falls to 14-10 and 6-8.

“That’s senior leadership [from LeGree],” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles. “Seniors make the big plays down the stretch and this is championship time. This is the time you find ways to make winning plays and he came through for us.”

In the teams’ first meeting at St. Frances on Jan. 3, the Eagles, not ranked at the time, shocked the Panthers, 80-66, behind a dominating fourth quarter.

On Monday, the Panthers came out primed for revenge. Their defense cranked up and their offense energized, they limited the Eagles to one field goal in taking a commanding 16-3 lead through the first quarter with Fleming accounting for eight points in the frame.

After things got a little better for the home team in the second quarter — it cut the lead to 27-17 when Jeff Exinor hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the half — they turned the tables on the Panthers in the third quarter.

More stanch on defense and more efficient in attacking the rim on offense, McDonogh opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run — Rob Fields scoring five points in the stretch — to pull within 27-25.

Jarzynski hit one of his big 3-pointers to end the scoreless drought and the Panthers held on to the slim lead minutes into the fourth quarter.

St. Frances’ Jordan Downs, left, and Josiah Cannady, right, play double team defense on McDonogh’s Ash Kendall, center. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Then LeGree took charge.

With the Panthers up 34-31, he found Jordan Downs at the left baseline for a 3-pointer with 6:17 to play. LeGree followed with a 3-point play and then a 3-pointer to build the lead to 43-33 with 5:07 to play before setting up Jarzynski for another 3.

“We kept the intensity and pressure up on defense and our offense came through. We got our big guys involved, our guards start hitting and it was game from there,” LeGree said.

Ashton Kendall provided McDonogh’s second-half spark and finished with 13 points with Fields going for 12 and Exinor adding 10.

With the poor shooting first half — only four field goals made —putting them in catch-up mode, the Eagles’ valiant rally feel short.

“We didn’t make enough shots and they did a really good job of executing when it mattered in the fourth quarter,” McDonogh coach Gerry Abrams said. “We had it down to three and they made some big time shots. Josiah is a great player, so hats off to him and Coach Nick for coaching a good game.”

Both teams return to action on Wednesday with 6 p.m. road games: St. Frances visiting Gilman and McDonogh traveling to Loyola Blakefield.

St. Frances 50, McDonogh 42

SF — Flamer 2, Egbiremolen 5, LeGree 10, Cannady 2,  Fleming 12, Downs 6, Jarzynski 11, Jones 2. Totals: 19 6-11 50

M — Couplin 2, Exinor 10, Fields 12, Kendall 13, Wiliams 1, Ferguson 4. Totals: 12 12-17 42

Halftime: SF, 27-17

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