Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Mount comes up short against Merion Mercy

- By Ed Morlock emorlock@timesheral­d.com

SPRINGFIEL­D » Points were hard to come by in the District 1-5A first-round playoff matchup between Merion Mercy Academy and Mount Saint Joseph Academy Friday night.

Especially in the final minutes.

Lauren Hoffman hit a pair of free throws to get the Mount within one point with 71 seconds remaining in the game and the Magic had a couple more possession­s to try to complete the comeback.

No. 8 Mount Saint Joseph wasn’t able to find the bottom of the net and committed a couple costly turnovers in the final minute of its 32-31 loss to No. 9 Merion Mercy at Springfiel­d Township High School.

“We weren’t as poised as we should have been or could have been,” Mount coach Matt Feeney said. “A couple turnovers at bad times. Credit to them, they played good defense towards the end. We got some good looks, but they challenged the shots. I just thought we lost our poise a little bit.”

After Hoffman made it 32-31 with 1:11 remaining, the Magic got a defensive stop. They missed a shot to take the lead with 30 seconds left, but Hoffman was their to tie-up the rebound and the possession arrow kept the ball with the Mount.

Another Magic shot rimmed out with 23 seconds left, but Chloe McGrorty grabbed the offensive rebound. Eleven seconds

later, Hoffman was trying to connect with Georgia Pickett on a pick-androll. Merion’s Monica Merenda was there and jumped to deflect the pass with her right hand and grabbed the loose ball.

“With the out-of-bounds play we had a good look and just couldn’t finish on it,” Hoffman, who was the only double-figure scorer in the game with 16 points, said. “I think I panicked at the end when I got doubled. We ran out of timeouts, we didn’t really have a set at the end and we just couldn’t finish. We had many opportunit­ies, I just don’t think it was meant for us. We really couldn’t finish.”

“We do a defensive shell drill a lot of days and say you have to get three or four stops to win the game,” Merion coach John Richardson said. “One of our seniors, Maeve McMahon, said it seemed like we were on defense for the last two minutes. We knew what our assignment­s were, played tough, boxed out, Monica Merenda got a big steal at the end. Defense wins games. We don’t care if we win 20-19, 32-31. We’re proud of the girls because there’s been a lot of games where we didn’t get the stop at the end.”

The Golden Bears missed the front-end of a one-andone with six seconds left, but tied up the rebound and the possession arrow gave them the ball. They inbounded the ball with less than a second remaining before celebratin­g their district playoff win.

“We’re just so happy, over the moon,” Merion’s Lucy Curry said. “We’re going to work hard, practice (Saturday) right back at it and we can’t wait for Round 2.”

Curry, a first team AllAACA selection, was held scoreless for the first three quarters of the game. That changed in the fourth, when she scored all five Merion points. Her two baskets in the fourth gave the Golden Bears two-possession leads — 29-24 on the first possession of the fourth and 3127 with 2:30 remaining — and she split a pair of free throws with 1:24 left, which proved to be the game-winning point.

“I just didn’t want to let my team down,” Curry, who grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots, said. “We haven’t made the second round of districts in so long. I just wanted to keep my composure and do the best I can for myself and my team.”

Merion Mercy jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Mary Kate Gray and Merenda put back offensive rebounds and Julia Richardson knocked down a threepoint­er.

The Mount called timeout and responded with points on four straight possession. Hoffman hit a pair of threes and a layup while McGrorty added two points to tie the game at 10.

Merion took a 12-10 lead after the first quarter and a low-scoring second sent the Golden Bears to the halftime locker room ahead, 18-14.

“When we score we score in bunches,” Feeney said, “and when we don’t — we scored two points in the fourth quarter against Gwynedd and they were foul shots with eight seconds to go. We’re really capable of not scoring just like we’re capable of scoring. We really need more consistenc­y.”

After falling behind 2014 after halftime, the Mount went on an 8-1 run to take their first lead of the game. McGrorty scored an oldfashion­ed three-point play before hitting a straighton three-pointer to put the Magic ahead, 22-21, with 2:40 left in the third.

The AACA rivals went on the seesaw with four consecutiv­e one-point lead changes. Merion’s Erin Devlin and Francesca Scarpone scored four straight points to send their side to the fourth ahead, 27-24.

Julia Richardson led Merion with nine points and Scarpone added seven.

McGrorty added eight points for the Magic while Pickett grabbed 14 rebounds.

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