Battle cats: Starr's Mill, Mercy split doubleheader

Fri, 01/04/2008 - 10:25pm
By: Kevin Wandra

Both the Starr’s Mill and Our Lady of Mercy boys and girls basketball teams wanted nothing more Friday than to start off the new year with victories in their first games since the holiday break.

Led by Dominique McDermott’s 25 points, the Bobcats ended the night with a 62-47 victory over the Panthers, while the Lady Panthers opened the non-region doubleheader with a 46-29 victory over the Lady Bobcats at the Panther Pit in Fayetteville.

Starr’s Mill and Mercy had never played each other prior to Friday night.

The Bobcats clamped down on the Panthers defensively in the late game, holding Starr’s Mill to 10 points in the first half, which concluded with Mercy in front 22-10.

Two free throws by McDermott gave Mercy a double-digit lead (16-6) with 7:17 left in the second quarter. Mercy remained ahead by double digits the rest of the way, thanks mainly to the play of McDermott, a diminutive point guard whose energy gave his team a spark and whose ability to slash to the basket gave Starr’s Mill fits.

“[McDermott] is definitely an impact player,” Mercy coach Tony Caruso said. “He brings that energy and next gear to us. Earlier in the year, we were bringing him off the bench for that spark. We had some injuries, so we moved him back in the starting lineup.

“He’s responded, pushing the tempo, playing great defense and distributing the ball. He gives us a big spark at both ends of the floor.”

The Bobcats led by as many as 20 late in the third quarter, but Starr’s Mill made a couple of valiant comeback attempts late, twice cutting Mercy's lead to 11 in the fourth quarter and once to 10 with three minutes remaining.

Mercy quashed Starr’s Mill’s comeback hopes with a game-ending 7-0 run that included four points from McDermott.

It was the second time this season that Mercy, a team that plays in Class A, defeated a local team from Class AAAA; in their second game of the season, the Bobcats beat Class AAAA opponent Whitewater 61-53 in Fairburn.

“This is a big win for us as a program, just like the Whitewater win,” Caruso said. “To be able and play some Fayette County schools and compete, especially if we are able to knock them off, that’s great for our program. It gives us credibility and some legitimacy.”

Mercy had two players score in double figures, McDermott and Nnamdi Moh (11 points). Richard Obiora and Jake Lethbridge both added eight for Mercy.

Starr’s Mill was led by Paul Vogel (nine points), Justin Smith (seven) and Colin Elias (seven).

The girls game was all Starr’s Mill from start to finish; the Lady Panthers held a double-digit lead from late in the first quarter all the way to the conclusion of the game.

The game was essentially over by halftime, with Starr’s Mill holding a commanding 30-8 lead.

Mercy rallied in the third quarter, opening the quarter with a 12-0 run that trimmed Starr’s Mill’s lead to 10. Alexandria Miles led Mercy’s comeback, scoring eight of her team-high 11 points in the quarter.

The Lady Panthers responded with a run of their own, 10-4, to close the quarter with a comfortable 40-24 lead.

Starr’s Mill has shown significant improvement since the beginning of the season; in its first six games, the Lady Panthers averaged less than 30 points per game. In their last six games, the Lady Panthers have averaged right around 50 points per game.

“We definitely have shown improvement offensively,” Starr’s Mill coach Whitt Jones said. “We’re starting to be able to do more offensively. We made some mistakes tonight, but we had the mentality that we were going to be aggressive and score.”

Marissa Ring scored a team-high 11 points, Alexis Shaffer had nine and Karlie Bureau and Tempest Ponds each had six for Starr’s Mill.

In addition to Miles, Mercy’s high scorers were Camille Thompson (nine points) and Kelly Tolcher (seven).

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