No. 8 IND hangs on to top Mercy, 43-38

Shooting just 22 percent, Indians persevere behind game-high 20 from Jones

Girls basketball

High Schools

January 31, 2004|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In local private school circles, it's known as "The Game."

For the No. 8 Institute of Notre Dame, last night's 38th annual basketball showdown with archrival Mercy remained a game a bit too long for comfort.

The IND girls outplayed the Magic in most aspects, but poor shooting kept them from pulling away. In the end, though, the Indians' superior talent was enough to hold off a late charge from Mercy in a 43-38 victory before a vocal 3,832 at the Towson Center.

"We didn't shoot well, but rebounding and defense wins games, and that's what we did tonight," IND coach Herb Hoelter said. "We rebounded and we played great defense."

IND (14-4) has won two straight games in the series, though Mercy (9-9) still leads overall, 25-13.

Despite getting a game-high 20 points from junior Chandrea Jones, IND shot just 22 percent from the field, compounding the problem by also making only 12 of 30 free throws.

The Indians, however, made up for it with relentless man-to-man defense that continually forced turnovers and hurried shots. Mercy committed 27 turnovers and made just 12 field goals.

Even so, Mercy, which lost its starting point guard and floor leader when Amanda Courter tore a knee ligament Sunday against Roland Park, remained within striking distance, cutting an 11-point deficit to four on Kristen Carr's three-pointer with 1:18 left.

"We just kept hanging around," Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion said. "My kids fought tremendously. They clawed, and it wasn't pretty, but they got it done. They got it down to four against a very good team. That's all I can ask for."

Unable to find a rhythm on offense, Mercy managed just two field goals over the first 9:10, yet stayed in the game largely because of IND's poor shooting.

After Amber Smith and Jones each hit three-pointers in the early moments, the Indians went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc the rest of the half.

Still, IND never relinquished the lead, building it to 17-11 before taking a five-point lead into halftime.

That lead increased to 31-20 by the end of the third quarter before the Magic slowly clawed back on the opportunistic scoring of Tamara George (11 points) and Sam Pyzik and Carr (nine each).

"We knew we had to just play through [the poor shooting]," IND forward Brooks Webster said. "If we played our game, eventually our shots would fall."

With 48 seconds to play, IND took its lead back up to six on Webster's steal and layup, then held on.

"Our offense was off, but our defense won the game for us," Jones said.

The game annually brings together thousands of current and former students, their families, faculty members and others associated with the schools for two hours of raucous cheering and reminiscing.

In many respects, the night is one huge family reunion.

"It's about basketball, but it's also about pride in the school," Hoelter said. "Having all of your family, friends and alumnae come out to a game like this is just a great undertaking. We're just proud to take part in it."

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