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St. Anthony's girls hoops earns national ranking
When St. Anthony’s faced Paul VI Catholic on Sunday, coach Ken Parham hadn’t told his team much about its opponent. The Friars, going in, weren’t made aware that they were facing a team ranked fifth in the country; a Virginia girls basketball powerhouse that boasts players committed to Division I colleges.
“We were down 16-11 after the first quarter, and then down 12 at the half,” Parham said. “That’s when I told them.”
Perhaps the knowledge of what was at stake – understanding what could be gained with a victory – would spark the team. And maybe, too, a little reminder to the Friars that they’re also an elite team, loaded with Division I talent, and one fully capable of holding its own in the She Got Game Tournament in Washington, DC.
What followed was a spirited comeback, a dominant fourth quarter and, in the end, St. Anthony’s pulling out a 59-55 victory.
Charise Wilson scored 18 points and was named game MVP. Chastity Taylor added 16 points and Kalifa Davy had 12.
“In the second half, we really turned it around,” said Parham, whose team outscored Paul VI 21-9 in the fourth quarter. “They stepped it up.”
And St. Anthony’s (3-0) has taken a step up. That victory, combined with their track record, elevated the Friars into the national rankings at 16th, according to MaxPreps' latest poll on Tuesday.
“The thing that sticks out the most is the chemistry,” Parham said. “They all get along really well and they like to play for each other… Everyone sacrifices [individual statistics] and just adds something to the equation.”
Though an individual milestone was reached recently. Taylor, a Delaware-bound forward, notched her 1,000th career point in St. Anthony’s 89-51 win over Curtis on Dec. 8.
The Friars are also led by Wilson, a senior guard committed to Northeastern, and Davy, a talented forward, headed to Mount St. Mary’s. They, along with Tyla Parham and 6-3 Jayla Jones-Pack form a balanced and versatile starting lineup. St. Anthony’s is seeking a fourth straight CHSAA league title.
But before the league season begins, they will continue to test themselves on the road. The Friars will travel next to Phoenix for the Nike Tournament of Champions, where they will face Windward (Ca.), another nationally-ranked opponent. Later on, they will travel to Philadelphia and New Jersey for more non-league contests.
“It doesn’t get much easier for us,” Parham said. “We get 10 non-league games and I’ll try to play the best teams that are willing to play us. The goal is to challenge our players and see how good we are; see how we compete with teams that are nationally-ranked.”