By Bonta Hill
Wednesday night at McAuley Pavillion, Mercy High School was determined to not let its rivals from the Peninsula get into any comfort zone.
Mercy’s defensive pressure proved to be too much for Mercy-Burlingame, and the Skippers rolled to a 70-42 victory over the Crusaders in non-league action.
Mariah Masoli led the Skippers (12-1) with a game-high 25 points and seven steals, Courtney Sabahi chipped in 12 points, and the Skippers never trailed in the contest.
”We knew this was a rivalry game, this was the best crowd of the year, and every year [Mercy-Burlingame seems] to [play] their best game against us,” said Mercy head coach Mike Guiterrez. “We knew we had to come out strong as we could right away, and that was our plan.”
Before spectators settled into their seats, the Crusaders (7-6) were down 7-0 after two minutes. The Skippers would force Mercy-Burlingame into eight first quarter turnovers and 3-of-15 shooting, enabling them to jump out to a 20-6 lead.
“We talked about not letting up and playing Mercy basketball,” Masoli said. “We knew this was a big game for us, being a rivalry, so we just had to do our thing.”
Mercy-Burlingame would actually settle down, shooting 6-of-12 from the floor in the second quarter, but they would go into the half down 39-23.
Masoli came out of the locker room after the break and hit two three-pointers on consecutive possessions, yet the Skippers played sloppy as a whole, commiting seven turnovers in the third quarter.
But on this night it wouldn’t matter, as Mercy would punctuate the third quarter on Eudora Chen’s 35-foot three-pointer that banked in off the backboard to beat the buzzer.
Still, Guiterrez still knows his team needs to tighten up when they start West Bay Athletic League play and face the likes of powerhouses Pinewood and Eastside Prep.
“In our league, which is a very strong league, if we let the teams get that sort of penetration, we’re going to have a hard time,” Guiterrez said. “We might have had some nice turnovers, but we them get way too much penetration in the key, and we got to get better at that.”
The Crusaders finished the game shooting 14-of-54 from the field and they would never mount any real threat to the Skippers.
“[They] were playing the passing lanes and they were really aggressive, and our players were hesitant with the basketball,” said Mercy-Burlingame head coach Ola Dean. “They were a little intimidated by the moment. This game really meant a lot to [us], and they were focused on it weeks ago. We just didn’t play to our full potential.”
After losing to Bay School in the Urban Holiday Shootout, the Skippers have reeled off five straight victories, but more importantly, they’ve gotten tighter as a team after dealing with a death to player’s family member during the Urban tournament.
“That’s what team is all about, we care about each other a lot, and we were at the funeral right before we played [Convent],” Guiterrez said. “Life is short, and I just lost a good friend in Mike Gragnani yesterday, and the girls now are learning life lessons. What better way to do it than in a time of crisis.”
Mariah Masoli – 25
Courtney Sabahi – 12
Christina Haight – 9
Monique Mariano – 8
Eudora Chen – 8
Angela Finocchiar – 12
Samantha Requilman – 9
Jenna Sweidman – 7
Haley Fanfelle – 5
Joelle Ortiague – 5