December 22nd, 2010

Late Basket Gives Mercy 53-51 Win Over SHA

Chris Jung

Senior Writer


Late Basket Gives Mercy 53-51 Win Over SHA
photo by Chris Jung

Jaguars outscore Valkyries 21-8 in fourth quarter

Mercy Academy basketball Head Coach Mark Evans decided to make a lineup change recently, asking senior Emily Goetz to play limited minutes due to the lack of her physical play.

Following her performance Wednesday morning in a Republic Bank Classic semifinal game against Sacred Heart Academy, Goetz may have earned her full-time position back.

She scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning layup with 14 seconds remaining, and led the defending state champion Jaguars to a 53-51 come-from-behind win over the Valkyries. Heading into the final period of play, Sacred Heart owned an 11-point advantage.

"I've been real proud of Emily," said Evans. "Courtney (Roush) took her place a week or so ago, mainly because Emily wasn't being as physical as she needed to be on defense. And not being as aggressive. But she did a great job on (Boone County's Lydia Nash) last night, and that led right into today. She played with a lot of confidence. She knew she could beat her man, and she did. She was really the difference-maker."

Goetz' heroics came after SHA senior Annamarie Campbell tied the game at 51-51 with 33 seconds to go. Sacred Heart senior Monica McGreal's three-point shot attempt fell short with one second remaining, giving Mercy its eighth straight win to start the season. It was the Valkyries' first loss of the season. Both teams entered the game with identical 8-0 records.

SHA was the aggressor early on and took early control of the game, as McGreal and fellow senior Morgan Clemons combined for 13 of Sacred Heart's 15 total points int he first quarter, which eventually led to a 15-14 Valkyrie lead after one period.

In the second, the teams traded leads and ties at a frantic pace. But after senior Maddie Peabody's 3-pointer tied the game at 24-24 with 30 seconds until halftime, junior Sandy Gahafer drew a foul with 0.9 seconds left, made the second of her two free throw attempts, and sent SHA into the locker room with a 26-25 lead.

Both teams came out with continued physical play in the third quarter, but again it was Sacred Heart who quickly took control, as the message was clear from the get-go: throw the ball inside. And it was Clemons who took advantage of the extra touches, scoring eight points in the quarter and helping SHA pull ahead. With 1:25 to go in the third, junior Jade Tubb drained a 3-pointer right in front of her team bench, giving the Valkyries its largest lead of the game at 43-32. 

Tubb finished the game with five points. Clemons had a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds.

But in the fourth quarter, Mercy found another gear and began cutting into the SHA lead. With 6:39 remaining in the contest, the Jaguars' Christine Roush ended a lengthy scoring drought for her team with a free throw. Two minutes later, Ch. Roush followed a Goetz basket with a steal and a layup of her own, cutting the margin to 45-40 with 4:08 left.

A backcourt press-induced turnover quickly gave Mercy possession again, and Goetz added to the 6-0 Jags run with another layup, making the score 45-42 in favor of SHA. Ch. Roush scored one more time at the 3:02 mark to cut the score to one, and Whitney Hartlage's 3-pointer with 2:19 to go gave Evans and Co. their first lead since early in the game.

"(Early on), we missed layup, after layup, after layup, and so much what we do and so much of what we're about is attacking the basket, making our shots, getting into presses and mixing our defenses," said Evans. "But when you can't make a two-footer, that's hard to do. So it was a struggle all day long. And (SHA Head Coach) Donna (Moir) has those kids playing hard and they're hard for us to deal with because of their post play is so good. It took everything we had and lots of energy in the end, and I was proud of them."

Goetz and Ch. Roush finished with 12 and 13 points respectively, while Christine's sister - Courtney Roush - finished with a team-high 13 points. Mercy outscored Sacred Heart 21-8 in the final quarter and forced six costly SHA turnovers during the final 5:24.

"I blame myself a lot, but we just didn't finish the game," said Moir. "Mercy made a couple of easy baskets and we just didn't defend very well the last three minutes of the game."

SHA was also led by McGreal's nine points and four assists and Peabody's eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field in the losing effort. Moir said she didn't blame any kind of "let down" following her team's big win over the state's No. 1 Marion County in the Classic quarterfinals.

"When Sacred Heart and Mercy go at it, we're going to get up before the game," said Moir. "I thought that we went up 11 (points) and stopped looking to score. And I think that kind of played a difference. But we've got to get over the hump and we've got to win those games. Obviously we did yesterday (over Marion County) and we had a good win against Ryle, but you've got to get to the finals. You've got to play for that (Classic) championship."

With Mercy's comeback win, they set up a Republic Bank Classic title game against duPont Manul - a team who is also still undefeated this season. Manual defeated Bowling Green 71-53 during the morning's other semfinal game. When asked how he thought his team would fare during Wednesday's game, Evans said he was worried about the energry left in his team.

"We better get back and get iced," said Evans. "I think (Manual's) playing extremely well right now. I think they're very fresh, because they even really been challenged except for that one time. We've been challenged. Energy is key. But it's going to be a real tough chore tonight."

Up next for Sacred Heart is a post-Christmas trip to Miami, FL for the Junior Orange Bowl Girls Basketball Classic. Their first game in that tournament will begin on Dec. 28 against Our Lady of Lourdes (Miami, FL).

 

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