BALTIMORE - Even with star forward Laura Coakley on the bench, the St.
Mary's girls basketball team remains a squad to reckon with.
That fact was driven home hard to Baltimore Catholic League's Mercy in yesterday's league opener for both teams.
"I tried not to get the kids too excited about the fact Coakley wasn't going to be playing," Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion said after watching her Sharpshooters of Baltimore City drop a 48-38 decision to the visiting Saints. "I didn't talk about it much during the week because I knew they had a lot of talent."
With their 6-foot senior sidelined with a knee injury, the Saints showed signs of mortality throughout the contest. Though the first half ended with them in command, 26-16, they shot a dismal 12-of-23 from the field while turning the ball over nine times.
St. Mary's (2-1 overall, 1-0 in the league) hadn't miss a beat in the opening minutes of the contest, when it quickly built a 10-4 lead. But the team ended the first quarter on a bad note, missing on the last eight attempts and allowing Mercy to pull to within one, 10-9.
"We made some mistakes on offense and our shooting could have been better, but we were starting two rookies (freshman Bridget Smith and sophomore Anne Donovan)," St. Mary's tri-coach Carmine Blades said. "The Catholic League is tough, and I think our rookies may have panicked a bit."
Mercy's top-gun junior Stephanie Rohe, who emerged as the game's leading point-getter with 22, forced Saint turnovers all over the court in the third period. St. Mary's coughed up the ball six times in the third quarter alone for a total of 19 on the day.
Mercy pulled to within three of the Saints, 33-30, early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as it was to get. Randall Goldsborough picked up two of her six points when she buried both ends of a one-and-one to return the Saints margin to five, 35-30.
Donovan, Coakley's 5-10 sophomore stand-in, finished the game with 10 points, as did teammates Amelia Mikula and Smith.
Leading the way for the Saints in the scoring column was senior Heather Greenlee, with 12.
"The girls did what they had to to win, and this was a very big win for us," Blades said. "But really, we did feel the loss of Laura (Coakley). We not only missed her scoring but her coaching ability on the court. She has that calming influence on the court and we needed that today."