Silence is golden. It can also be a lot of fun, as fans of the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School girls basketball team discovered.
Mercy held its first Silent Night game Thursday night. The idea was a takeoff on a tradition observed by Taylor University, an NAIA school in Indiana. This is how it works: Fans dress in costumes and all sorts of garb, remaining absolutely silent until the home team scores its 10th point. Then it’s time for them to turn the cheering on full blast.
A pep rally was held at Mercy Thursday, the day of the Monarchs’ final game before Christmas. For the game, Mercy students entered the school gym wearing all sorts of outfits. Among those standing in the student section were a pepperoni pizza, a slice of bacon, Gumby, a cow, three bananas and a double of Mercy assistant coach Jeff Doroski.
A handmade sign behind the students served as a reminder: “SHH.”
Following the national anthem, the quiet began, sort of. Coaches, players and Southold fans made noise as they went about their business, but the Mercy faithful remained silent, waiting for their team’s 10th point to open their mouths.
With her team leading 7-3, Mercy’s Mia Behrens received a pass from Caryn Nabrizny and put up an outside jump shot. The ball fell through the net. Fans, believing it was a three-pointer, erupted.
It was premature, though. The basket was a two-pointer, so the fans reverted to silent mode. It wasn’t until shortly after, when Nabrizny sank a free throw, that the fans could cheer for Mercy’s 10th point.
“It’s the first time, so you can’t be judgmental,” said Mercy coach Meaghan Macarthur.
From that point on, it was fairly loud as the Mercy students enjoyed themselves. They had a lot to enjoy. Melina Santacroce’s double-double led Mercy to a 56-37 blowout.
Mercy (3-3, 3-2 Suffolk County League VII) used a 9-0 run to forge a 21-7 lead. Southold (2-3, 1-3) didn’t see its 10th point until a Madison Tabor free throw cut the Mercy lead to 15 points with three minutes, 29 seconds left in the second quarter. From that point on, Southold twice pulled to within 10 points of Mercy, but no closer.
Santacroce was a force. The junior forward picked up 25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Mia Behrens supplied 18 points, six steals, five rebounds and two assists.
Grace Syron led Southold with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Tabor added eight points and Ale Cardi seven.
When the final buzzer sounded, Mercy students, arm in arm, swayed back and forth, singing “Silent Night.”
It seems as if a new Mercy tradition has been born.
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy fans broke their silence prematurely, cheering for what they believed to be their team’s 10th point. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)