No. 9 Mercy gets past Spalding Girls basketball

January 22, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

The Archbishop Spalding girls basketball team traveled to Mercy yesterday to play Meet the Press.

And after 32 minutes of intense grilling, it's safe to say the Cavaliers found it.

The No. 9 Sharpshooters used a dominating full-court press to force 23 turnovers in the first three quarters, and cruised to a 52-41 Catholic League win over No. 10 Archbishop Spalding.

"This one was really important to us," said Mercy's Gayle Belz, who led her team with 18 points. "We've been working a lot on the press, and it made a difference. We cut down on turnovers and made them turn it over a lot more."

The win evened the season series at a game apiece, after Spalding had won an early-season meeting, 60-47. Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion said she used that game as a motivator, showing her players the tape during Wednesday's practice.

"I couldn't watch more than the first half," Marion said. "We played so flat. Anytime you lose by 13, it remains in your mind."

Marion said that for the first time since she recently installed it, the press worked just as she drew it up.

The Sharpshooters constantly put pressure on the ballhandler in transition, making it nearly impossible for Spalding to gain any continuity on offense.

The Cavaliers (11-5 overall, 4-4 in the league) hit just 13 of 50 shots from the field.

"I think the press was a big key for them," said Spalding coach Paul Leimkuhler, "but it shouldn't have stopped us. We know how to handle a press. We just panicked."

Leading 12-11 early in the second quarter, Mercy turned its pressure up a notch to break open the game. The Sharpshooters forced seven turnovers and outscored the Cavaliers 15-2, with Christa Rohe scoring six, to end the half with a 27-13 lead.

"They got a rally going and we didn't take our time breaking the press," Leimkuhler said.

From there, it was bombs away for a Spalding team that couldn't punch the ball inside, and was forced to take most of its shots from the perimeter. Spalding's lone bright spot was guard Amy Langville, who finished as the only Cavalier in double figures with 18 points.

The win improved Mercy's record to 9-5, including 6-2 in the league where they sit in second place, a game behind St. Mary's.

Mercy players said they felt it was important to win, not only to keep pace in the league, but to redeem themselves from their disappointing loss earlier in the season.

"We really wanted to win," said Rohe. "We knew we should've beaten them before."

Said Belz: "We really wanted to put it to them today. We've been working a lot on the press, and it really made a difference."

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