Mercy rallies in stretch to stop St. Frances, 58-55 Girls Catholic League

February 21, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

For No. 7 Mercy, the trip to tomorrow's Catholic League Tournament championship game has been packed with excitement but not the kind the Sharpshooters would like.

In yesterday's 58-55 semifinal victory over No. 15 St. Frances, the Sharpshooters (18-7) trailed until the final minute and a half. That came on the heels of a 66-63 overtime win against Seton Keough in the first round.

"We've had two tough games in a row, but these girls never gave up. That's the thing I was most proud of," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion, whose team meets top-seeded and No. 6 St. Mary's in tomorrow's title game at 4 p.m. at the College of Notre Dame.

Early on, St. Frances (18-8) stunned the second-seeded Sharpshooters with a sensational transition game. The running Panthers hit 10 of 17 shots in the first quarter to take a 23-17 lead.

Jakia Ervin scored eight and Tavonna Hines added six in that quarter.

Panthers coach Jerome Smith told his players they had to take a quick lead if they hoped to beat Mercy, a team they already had lost to twice this season.

"In the previous two games, we've started real slow. That's been one of our dilemmas all year. This game, the kids came out with a lot of emotion."

After three quarters, the Panthers, who had led by as many as 12, maintained an eight-point lead. But the Sharpshooters started chipping away as soon as the fourth quarter opened. Gayle Belz, who scored a game-high 19, capped a three-point play to cut the Panthers' lead to 50-45 with 7:36 left.

Later, Belz sparked an eight-point Mercy run, hitting a layup off a pass from Jenni Hershberger that trimmed the Panthers' lead to 53-49. After Chris Williamson's 10-footer cut the lead to two, Belz scored the next two baskets to put Mercy ahead, 55-53, with 1:23 remaining.

St. Frances couldn't do anything to break the momentum. Even when Ervin banked in shot to tie at 55, Mercy quickly answered with a 14-footer from Williamson (14 points).

During Mercy's eight-point scoring stretch, the Panthers turned the ball over once, missed three free throws and missed both follows after grabbing the rebounds off the missed foul shots.

St. Frances was hurt by its performance at the line, hitting just five of 19. Even though the Panthers scored two more baskets than Mercy, Mercy canned 12 of 22 free throws to seal the win.

In the other Catholic League semifinal, St. Mary's took a 63-47 victory over No. 16 Spalding (16-8).

Annetta Davis scored 15 and grabbed 22 rebounds while Anne Donovan scored 21 and had 10 rebounds to lead the defending && tournament champs (22-6).

Saints guard Missy Holmes added 10 points but also turned in the defensive performance of the game, holding Catholic League

Player of the Year Amy Langville to 14 points.

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