SPRINGFIELD >> Bianca Coleman’s only basket Thursday night was the first of the game – a three-pointer to give Gwynedd Mercy Academy a lead over host Mount Saint Joseph Academy.
The Monarchs never lost the lead, front-running wire-to-wire in a 43-21 Athletic Association of Catholic Academies win over the Magic.
Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s defense played as well the final score suggests. They limited the Mount to nine made field goals and six free-throw attempts.
“We knew we had to come out here and just D up,” GMA junior Hannah Griffin said. “That’s how you win games, how you win championships, it’s always defense. It starts when you hit the floor. I’m really proud – Bianca (Coleman) got two fouls and Megan (McDonnell) stepped up, same with Sofia (Coleman). (Mount’s) Lauren Hoffman is a great player and we knew we had to D up on her and Georgia (Pickett) and those people. They’re a really good team, a really talented team. We had to D up, that’s what’s going to win for us.”
“Everybody knows we play man,” GMA coach Tom Lonergan said. “Today I thought our team was very physical in it and I thought our team did a very good job of communicating and knowing what we wanted to do when certain things happened on the floor… To be a good defensive team you need to play as one unit and I think that’s what we did a really good job of today.”
The Monarchs (6-0, 2-0 AACA) defense had two dominant stretches to take complete control of the game.
The first came in the first quarter when they held a narrow 5-4 lead. GMA finished the opening frame strong and carried that momentum into the second quarter, using a 13-2 run to take a commanding 18-6 advantage.
“We just came out extremely energized and extremely into the game,” Griffin said. “It was that initial start for us where we were all together, working as a team and getting that lead. We came here to win – that’s what we came here to do.”
The second came in the third quarter when the Mount trimmed its deficit to 11, 26-15. The Monarchs held them scoreless for nearly a full quarter of game time, going on a 13-0 run to take a 39-15 lead before the Magic ended the drought with 4:50 left in the game.
“We didn’t set screens well enough and we held onto the ball too long,” Mount coach Matt Feeney said. “We just didn’t move the ball the way we should. We didn’t have enough movement on offense.”
Griffin led the Monarchs offense with 16 points. She scored 13 in the first half and added a buzzer-beating three to end the third quarter. She finished with 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Sofia Coleman joined Griffin in double figures with 14 points.
“We have four capable starters to score double figures,” Lonergan said. “Bianca (Coleman) was in foul trouble, usually she’s averaging like 14 for us. Between Hannah, Bianca and Sofia all three of them are over double digits. Maddie (Newell) gets close to it, she’s coming back from an injury. Dylan (Burke) does a nice job for us in the middle; she’ll pick up her baskets here or there and controls the rebounds for us. On any particular night, we feel like we have three or four capable players to score double figures.”
Hoffman led the Magic (6-4, 2-2 AACA) in scoring with seven points and added seven rebounds. Pickett had four points and a team-high 10 boards.
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 43, Mount Saint Joseph Academy 21
Gwynedd Mercy Academy 14 12 11 6 – 43
Mount Saint Joseph Academy 6 7 2 6 – 21
GMA: Mo Newell 0 2-2 2, Lapp 0 0-0 0, Ma Newell 1 2-3 4, Storck 0 0-0 0, McDonnell 0 0-0 0, Kelly 0 0-0 0, Griffin 5 4-6 16, B Coleman 1 0-0 3, S Coleman 5 4-5 14, Lowry 1 0-0 2, Burke 1 0-2 2. Total 14 12-18 43.
MSJ: Pumilia 2 0-0 4, Hoffman 2 2-4 7, Donahue 0 0-0 0, McGrorty 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 0-0 0, Shouldis 1 0-0 2, Kennedy 0 0-0 0, Kukla 1 0-0 2, Birmingham 1 0-0 2, Pickett 2 0-2 4, Scharnikow 0 0-0 0, Smith 0 0-0 0. Total 9 2-6 21.
3-point goals: GMA: Griffin 2, B Coleman. MSJ: Hoffman.