ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Kayla Schroeher of Bishop McGann-Mercy charging toward the basket while Port Jefferson’s Jillian Colucci tries to stop her.
MONARCHS 52, ROYALS 49
The Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs have suffered through some bleak high school girls basketball seasons in recent years. Really bleak.
Last season they went 0-18. The season before that they were 0-18. And the season before that they were 1-17. Just one win over three seasons.
If those were the dark ages of McGann-Mercy girls basketball, some light is finally shining through. Brian Babst, the team’s new coach, said it will take time to rebuild the program, but better days — and wins — are ahead for the young Monarchs.
A note of encouragement came on Thursday when the Monarchs earned a league win on the road. They used a 20-5 run that started near the end of the second quarter and ended early in the fourth, giving them the lead for good against Port Jefferson. Six Monarchs scored during that spell. The Royals mounted a late charge, but Mia Behrens, a freshman point guard, made 3 of 4 free throws and blocked a shot in the final 28.2 seconds to help the Monarchs preserve a 52-49 victory in the Suffolk County League VIII game.
Fiona Nunez, a senior who recently came off a two-week bout with strep throat and the flu, returned to form, producing a double-double for the Monarchs (3-4, 2-2), who snapped a three-game-losing streak. Nunez, who shot 6 of 14 from the field, scored 14 points and came down with 13 rebounds, both team-high figures. Behrens, who scored 8 points as did teammate Kayla Schroeher, also had 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 1 block.
Port Jefferson (2-7, 2-2), which trailed by as many as 13 points, was held to 1-for-15 shooting from the field in the third quarter. But the Royals didn’t fold. Courtney Lewis (21 points, 11 rebounds, 5 treys) and Jackie Brown both hit a pair of 3-point shots in the fourth quarter to tighten the gap. (For the game, Port Jefferson attempted 29 treys, making eight of them).
Consecutive 3-pointers by Brown and Lewis cut McGann-Mercy’s lead to 49-46 with 31.1 seconds left. A free throw by Behrens made it a 4-point game before Brown struck again from beyond the arc, swishing a shot from the left wing with 10 seconds to go, making the score 50-49.
Behrens sank a pair of free throws with 7.0 seconds remaining for the game’s final points.
Following a timeout, Port Jefferson’s Olivia Love tried to make an inbounds pass from under own basket, but a scrambling Schroeher hit the floor in an attempted steal, knocking the ball out of bounds. Love had another inbounds attempt, this time with 5.8 seconds to go. She heaved a long pass down to Brown, whose layup attempt was blocked by Behrens.
The Royals then fouled Delaney Macchirole, sending her to the foul line. She missed both foul shots, but the final 1.1 seconds ticked off before the ball bounced out of bounds.
Just like that, the Monarchs tripled their win total from the previous three seasons combined.
Port Jefferson, which suffered its sixth loss in seven games, received 13 points from Corrine Scannell and 10 rebounds from Gillian Kenah.