SPRINGFIELD >> It took Gwynedd-Mercy’s basketball team a while to find its rhythm Saturday evening in the semifinals of the Catholic Academies Championships at La Salle College High School.
But once the Monarchs found it, they were putting down a beat worthy of a Grammy Award.
Brigit Coleman scored 22 points and Erica DeCandido added 17 as Gwynedd downed Merion Mercy, 55-20, a verdict that will put Gwynedd into a finals meeting with Mount St. Joseph’s, a 33-9 winner over St. Basil’s in the other semi, Tuesday night back at La Salle.
The Monarchs and the Golden Bears scuffled early, but as so often happens, the Monarchs got their offense rolling by playing good defense.
“It was tight early because we playing sloppy,” said G-M head coach Tom Longergan. “But defensively we were doing what we wanted to do, Brigit and Erica started getting off good shots, and we got into a tempo we like.”
And once in that agreeable tempo, the Monarchs never looked back.
The contest stood at 11-5 after the first quarter, but DeCandido scoring seven second-quarter points and Coleman adding five, the lead ballooned to 13 by halftime and blew up from there.
By the middle of the third quarter the Monarchs were breezing with a 31-13 lead, and the Golden Bears were in a dark place from which they’d not escape.
“They’re very talented,” said Merion Mercy head coach Rob Baxter of the Monarchs. “They knocked down shots and we couldn’t make a shot.”
It was more of the same the rest of the way as DeCandido had six third-quarter points and Coleman checked in with seven, and it was obvious the Monarchs were headed for a showdown with the Mount.
“It was our defense,” Lonergan said. “We played real well defensively, and that allowed our offense to get in a rhythm.”
Along with the scoring of Coleman and DeCandido, the Monarchs got strong contributions from Carly Heineman, who scored eight points, and Mary Claire Casey, who added strong defense and collected five rebounds.
The Golden Bears struggled from the field and from the line and never quite got untracked offensively, although Gabby Heinsinger had six points and Bernadette McGeever and Domenica Tomasetti each had four.