Meaghan Macarthur played on Bishop McGann-Mercy’s last Suffolk County champion high school girls basketball team as a freshman in 2004. Now Macarthur hopes to play another role, as the team’s coach, in its first league championship since 1990.
Of course, there is still a long way to go for that, but the Monarchs have gotten off to a great start in Macarthur’s first season in charge.
Following a 78-22 non-league hammering at the hands of Hampton Bays in their season opener, the Monarchs opened their League VIII schedule by running off five straight wins, taking those games by an average of 21 points.
It started with a 24-point win over Center Moriches, then 32 points over Southampton, 21 points over Wyandanch, a 1-point triumph over Babylon and, most recently, a 27-point pasting of Southold/Greenport on Monday night in Riverhead.
Yes, life has been good for the Monarchs.
McGann-Mercy rolled past Southold/Greenport, 45-18, and there could have been an even greater disparity in the final score had the Monarchs not struggled uncharacteristically at the foul line, making only 11 of 27 free throws. Their hounding full-court press squeezed out turnovers and their defense held the Clippers to only 6-for-45 shooting (13.3 percent) from the field.
If that wasn’t enough, the Monarchs dominated the boards, holding a 41-24 advantage in rebounds, thanks in good part to the work of Juliana Cintron-Leonardo and Melina Santacroce, who combined for 23 of those rebounds.
Mia Behrens paced the Monarchs (5-1, 5-0) with 12 points. Santacroce had 10 points to go with her 11 rebounds. She could have had an even bigger night, but shot only 4 of 13 from the free-throw line.
Despite going 7 of 21 on their first-half free throws, the Monarchs held a comfortable 23-9 lead within the opening minute of the third quarter thanks to a 17-2 run for which the Clippers (2-5, 2-3) had no answer. Santacroce scored all 10 of her points during that spell.
Madison Tabor was the top scorer for the Clippers with 11 points. Only three other Clippers scored, and none had more than Samantha Baldwin’s 3 points.
League leaders McGann-Mercy and Mattituck (6-0, 5-0) are on a collision course. The teams will play Thursday night in Mattituck.
Photo caption: Mia Behrens, who led Bishop McGann-Mercy with 12 points, tries to find a way around Southold/Greenport’s Toni Esposito. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)