The No. 11 Catonsville girls basketball team had not played yet, and its opponent, Mercy, played less than 24 hours before yesterday's game.
Understandably, the visiting Comets did show some early-season nervousness, and the Magic looked tired at times, but seventh-ranked Mercy still played well enough to capture a 58-48 nonleague victory.
Senior B.J. Banjo, coming off a 32-point performance in her team's hard-fought win against McDonogh on Friday, led the Magic (3-1) with 24 points.
"McDonogh was very physical, and my team spent a lot of energy last [Friday] night," Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion said. "I didn't think we completely had our legs against a quick Catonsville team."
With Banjo struggling early with her outside shot, the East Tennessee State-bound guard took the ball to the basket and was rewarded by making eight of 13 free throws.
"I wasn't in my game, and I didn't feel like myself. Playing back-to-back games is hard, and it is a lot of pressure, but we battled," Banjo said. "Today, my outside shot wasn't there, but luckily, the refs made some calls and I made some foul shots."
The Magic, which also got eight points each from junior Colette Hailey and sophomore guard Amanda Courter, got a good portion of its offense from the foul line: Mercy was 22 of 39 from the line and fouled out three Catonsville starters.
"We were out of position on defense, and that was our biggest problem," Comets coach Mike Mohler said. "It was our first game, and there were a little jitters and it showed. But that's why we play the schedule we do. It shows us how good we are, or how good we can be, or what we need to work on."
Catonsville, the defending Baltimore County champions, was led by senior Ashley Liggett's 12 points. The Comets struggled with turnovers and never were able to cut the Magic's lead below five in the second half.
The Magic took control of the game by closing the second quarter on a 10-2 run. Banjo culminated the run with a three-pointer right before the halftime buzzer that gave Mercy a 31-24 lead.