"We went with a very small lineup," Hovis said.
"Christy Plower and Jackie Cooper made their first starts for us, because I thought we needed more quickness in the lineup. That allowed me to move Nikki Flocco and Natalie DiRenzo to forward. They are both very quick and so is our center, Mandy Olley."
DiRenzo had 17 points for the Colonials (17-4, 13-1), and the Panthers (19-1, 11-1) got a game-high 21 points from senior center Sonya Melton.
"We did the one thing I dreamed of, playing Cheltenham on our floor for the league title," Hovis said. "No one can ask more of this young team than that."
The Colonials need a victory over winless Upper Merion tomorrow to secure their share of the title.
* Many other games with a direct impact on league titles were played Tuesday.
Erin Martin had 24 points for Upper Moreland (12-7, 7-6) in a 48-35 victory over Wisshickon (9-9, 8-3), which further muddled the Suburban One American Freedom Division race.
In the Inter-Academic League, Germantown Academy (11-8, 4-1) fell out of its first-place tie by losing to Notre Dame (15-7, 5-0) by 43-35.
Senior guard Monica Sortino had 16 points and Tracy Abromazage added 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead Kennedy-Kenrick (12-7, 4-4) to a 47-43 win over Bishop McDevitt (11-9, 7-2).
The loss dropped the Lancers out of first place in the Catholic League Northern Division.
* Lori Stralkowski, the lone senior on the Norristown team, led the Eagles to a 49-33 win over William Tennent on Tuesday.
The Eagles trailed by 11-2 after the first quarter.
The comeback was paced by 17 points, 11 in the second half, from Stralkowski.
"We had lost five of the last six, and I didn't want to go in at halftime all wild," the Eagles' first-year coach, Bob Koch, said. "I just went in relaxed and told a joke. Then I told them to play the way they were capable of in the second half. Lori came out and just played great; she had a three- pointer and a bunch of penetrating jump shots."
Stralkowski's leadership has been invaluable for the Eagles (6-12, 5-9).
"I couldn't possibly measure what Lori has meant to this team," Koch said. "She's been the rock, emotionally and leadership-wise. This has not been an easy transition. She's been a leader and she's been very positive. She and Jessica Munson are the two hardest workers I've ever had."
* Senior Kim Koschineg had a total of 20 points and 11 rebounds, and junior Sue Van Stone added 10 points and eight rebounds to lead Mount St. Joseph's (9-5, 3-2) past Villa Maria by 57-39 in Catholic Academies League play Tuesday.
"We played a very sloppy first half and were tied at halftime," Chiefs coach Kevin Tinneny said. "But Stephanie Pavlick played great defense in the second half to force a lot of turnovers.
"Kim and Sue made a lot of layups off those turnovers."
Freshman Katie O'Neill has spelled Pavlick at point guard this season and has been a third guard in the lineup at times for the Chiefs.
"When we beat Notre Dame, and they were a ranked team, she played a brilliant second half," Tinneny said of O'Neill.
"She hit foul shots down at the end for us to win. Since then, she's basically started to come into her own.
"Katie pushes the ball up the floor better than anyone I've ever seen," he said.
"She's faster with the basketball than most people are without it."