Source: MI Prep Zone
Author: Matthew Mowery
WATERFORD — It’s true to say that the matchup between defending Catholic League champion Farmington Hills Mercy and defending Kensington Lakes Activities Association champ Waterford Mott comes a few months to late to be as classic as it could’ve been.
That also undersells how good of a game it actually was on Tuesday’s opening night, despite the vastly changed rosters of the two squads.
It was a wild finish, as both teams erased multiple possession deficits in the final quarter, before Mercy pulled out a 55-52 win on Jordyn Schluter’s three-point play with eight seconds left.
“This is a case where we were down five points, came back, and did everything right, and then weren’t in the right defense — you know? The kids, hopefully, will remember that, and won’t do that again,” said Mott coach Michelle Sklar, whose team rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 30 seconds.
“This is exactly what we wanted. Last year, we played a pretty easy (early) schedule. I went out, and I scheduled Mercy and Clarkston for the first week, because I wanted to make sure we were prepared for when we get into league play, and we see Kettering, and get ready for those games.”
The Corsairs played in a ton of close games last year. Unfortunately, they lost a ton to graduation from their 20-win squad, including their all-time leading scorer, Lauren Hung, while second-leading scorer Moriah Williams later transferred.
Same for the Marlins, who graduated seven seniors after a 25-2 season in which they made their first semifinal appearance in decades.
They still have the senior experience of Oakland University signee Taylor Jones, and Sierra Wangler, but lost a freshman point guard, Jenna Schluter, to injury on the eve of the season.
“We’re trying to work things through. ... We were getting set as far as positions, and then we lose her, so now we’re really trying to work things out. We’re definitely in flux,” Mercy coach Gary Morris said. “We’re going to move people around until we find some right combinations.”
Foul trouble stymied both teams in the first half, but the Marlins put on a 13-0 run early in the fourth quarter to take a seven-point lead, 50-43. Jones, who had 10 of her game high 22 points in the third quarter, had three buckets in the Marlins’ streak to put them ahead.
“And then we didn’t handle the last few minutes very well, but a lot of those kids haven’t been in that situation,” Morris said. “Some of our younger players, who we think are going to be good players, we just have to work through those growing pains with them.”
Mott got a 3-pointer from Amy Cooperrider with 26.7 remaining, then a driving bucket by Toni Sarkisian (team-high 13 points) to tie it at 52-52 with 10 seconds left.
But the Marlins got the ball into the front court, and Jordyn Schluter followed up a streaking teammate’s layup attempt, putting the rebound back for the go-ahead bucket, then adding the free throw after the foul.