Bishop McGann-Mercy used a tenacious defense to snap a four-game losing streak on Wednesday night.
The Monarchs forced Center Moriches into 34 turnovers, including 19 in the opening half, en route to a 36-27 victory in a Suffolk County League VII girls basketball game in Riverhead.
The win was McGann-Mercy’s first in 16 days, since a 66-41 triumph at Southold/Greenport on Jan. 11. Then came loses to Mattituck, Babylon, Port Jefferson and Pierson/Bridgehampton.
McGann-Mercy (7-6, 7-5) shot 24.2 percent from the field (15 of 62), but an alert and reliable defense that included ball-hawking guards kept the hosts in control from the opening tip-off to the final whistle.
One of those guards, Olivia Kneski, set the tone by converting a turnover into a layup only 67 seconds into the game. After a Caroline Casey rebound basket tied it for Center Moriches (8-6, 7-5), Mia Behrens (team-high 7 points) stole the ball and went in for an uncontested layup for a 4-2 advantage the Monarchs never relinquished.
The Monarchs took command in the second quarter, outscoring the Red Devils, 8-2, en route to an 18-10 halftime lead.
During a 9:50 span in the second and third quarters, McGann-Mercy kept Center Moriches scoreless until Casey’s foul shot with 3:24 remaining in the third. The Red Devils shot 26 percent (13 of 50) from the floor in the game.
Before the game, a moment of silence was held for the Southold boys basketball coach, Phil Reed, who passed away Tuesday. Reed had been an assistant coach for the McGann-Mercy varsity football team and the head junior varsity football coach. He was 59.
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Chastin Giles tries to beat Center Moriches’ Sophia Sacknievich on a dribble drive. (Credit: Garret Meade)