Sophomore Colette Hailey and junior B.J. Banjo have spent the majority of their young lives playing basketball together in various AAU and recreation leagues. These days, however, it's No. 12 Mercy that's reaping the rewards of the talented backcourt tandem.
Yesterday against No. 13 John Carroll, Hailey (21 points) and Banjo (16) accounted for nearly 80 percent of the Magic's offense, helping their team build an early 17-4 lead before holding on for a 47-41 win over the visiting Patriots in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.
After Banjo's hot shooting - two three-pointers and 10 points in the first 3:29 - forced John Carroll to switch from a zone to a man-to-man, Hailey took over, time and again using quick drives to the basket to beat her defender.
"We've been playing together for a long time, and when we're both on, it's pretty unstoppable, I think," said Hailey, who has played with Banjo since the age of seven.
"You've got to play them honest," said John Carroll coach Kathleen Shannon. "You can't go out and double anybody, because if you do they're going to get it to the other kid who's wide open, and they're going to make you pay."
With the Patriots (6-2 overall, 4-1 league) unable to make their shots, even missing several layups on fast breaks, they found themselves trailing by double digits for most of the game. Trailing, 36-20, midway through the third quarter, however, they found their opening when Hailey was forced to the bench with her fourth foul, forcing the Magic (4-2, 3-1) to turn to its inexperienced bench.
Able to tame Banjo with a double-team, John Carroll, led by Kristin Jasper (11) and Elizabeth Oktavec (10), went on a 14-2 run over the next six minutes to cut the lead to 38-24.
"We really played with passion in the second half," said Shannon, whose team shot 21 percent from the field with 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. "I thought our defense was OK, but the problem was that we just couldn't shoot."
When Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion reinserted Hailey, however, the momentum quickly shifted back, as the sophomore quickly sank a three-pointer and a 12-foot jumper to push the lead back to seven.
The Patriots got to within three on MaryKate Sullivan's put-back with 27 seconds left, but could get no closer, as Jenn Williams and Hailey each hit key foul shots down the stretch.