Behind Nick Grant's high-flying dunks and the gritty play of brothers Steven and Darryl Proctor underneath the basket, No. 18 Paul VI Catholic raced to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes at St. John's last night and cruised to a 57-44 victory over the Cadets in Northwest.

Steven Proctor led all scorers with 15 points, Grant scored 12 points -- four on spectacular slams -- and Darryl Proctor chipped in with seven points and 10 rebounds to help the Panthers complete their Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schedule on an eight-game winning streak. The Panthers (20-6, 13-3) have assured themselves of at least third place heading into next week's conference tournament at American University, but they could climb to second depending on the outcome of Sunday night's game between Gonzaga and O'Connell.

"I'm exhausted," said Paul VI Coach Levi Franklin, whose team played eight WCAC games in the past 14 days. "It's been a tough two weeks. But the encouraging thing is we're playing really well. . . . We were playing on fumes."

Paul VI's schedule was congested because of several weather-related postponements and a handful of other contests that were pushed back because of problems with the Panthers' gymnasium. After tonight's game against St. Mary's Ryken, however, the Panthers will finally get a chance to catch their breath before opening tournament play at the end of next week.

St. John's lost its fourth in a row, falling to 3-4 without leading scorer Joe Miles (broken foot), and is virtually assured of the WCAC's fourth seed. Jay Bluford scored 14 points for St. John's, which will likely face Bishop McNamara in the first round.

"Paul VI is a playing very, very well right now," St. John's Coach Paul DeStefano said. "When you allow a team like that to take a 15-0 lead, it's going to be very difficult for you to come back."

WCAC to Hear Appeal

The WCAC's advisory committee will hear an appeal Monday from Bishop Ireton officials, who pressed for tougher sanctions against the top-ranked McNamara girls' basketball team after the squad played too many regular season games.

DeMatha principal Dan McMahon, the advisory committee's chairman, said Bishop Ireton was the only WCAC school to file an appeal before yesterday's noon deadline. Ireton Athletic Director Mark Heiser refused to comment concerning the school's appeal.

McNamara officials suspended Mike Bozeman from coaching in games for the rest of the season after learning his team played 30 regular season games, one more than the league's maximum. Thursday, WCAC Commissioner Bob Hardage upheld that penalty.

McNamara officials are allowed to appeal any ruling that comes out of Monday's hearing, McMahon said.

Wrestling Postponed

Maryland's dual wrestling championships, scheduled for today at Catoctin High in Thurmont, were postponed until Tuesday. Competition in the 4A/3A class will take place at River Hill in Clarksville starting at 5:30 p.m., with the finals scheduled for 7:30 p.m.; the 2A/1A competition will be at Owings Mills High starting at 5:30 p.m.

Correction

A caption in Thursday's editions incorrectly identified a Paul VI Catholic basketball player competing for a rebound against DeMatha. The player is Joe Cascio.

-- Tarik El-Bashir, Jon Galloand Todd Jacobson