Author: Dan O'Meara / John Stormzand
Never count out the Mercy Marlins, who came from behind to win for the fourth time in five games Monday night in girls basketball.
Down by as many as nine points in the third quarter, they rallied in the fourth to defeat visiting Canton, 39-37.
Mercy finished the 2014 part of its schedule with a 5-0 record, having staged comeback wins against Waterford Mott, Salem and Goodrich, too.
"The one thing we've done in each of our games is play a strong fourth quarter," Mercy coach Gary Morris said. "Tonight it was 13-4. Obviously, Taylor (Jones) hit the shots, primarily in the fourth."
Canton held the Mercy senior guard scoreless in the first quarter and didn't allow any dribble penetration, but Jones got her points eventually and finished with a game-high 25. Sixteen came in the second half, 11 in the last period.
"She tends to get better as the game goes," Morris said. "We did a better job in the second half of having her teammates help her by setting screens and trying to free her up. She was able to get the ball a little more in space."
Erin Hult, who led the Chiefs (2-3) with 14 points, scored the first basket of the fourth to give Canton a 35-26 lead, but Jones scored 10 of the next 12 to pull the Marlins within one, 37-36.
Another Canton turnover led to Jackie Bauer's reverse layup and Mercy's second lead of the game with three minutes to play.
The Marlins made two turnovers while they were trying to work the clock, but they managed to escape without any damage being done.
Hult's shot from the corner went in and out of the basket, and Sierra Wangler made two big defensive plays to put the ball back in Mercy hands. She tipped an inbound pass that led to a turnover, and she blocked a Canton shot in the final half minute.
Zora Pullen grabbed the loose ball after the block, and that possession resulted in Jones making the front end of a one-and-one with 6.5 seconds left. Canton's attempt at a three missed at the end.
"We put ourselves in a position to win against a great team," Canton coach Kevin Palmer said. "Obviously, I'm not happy about the outcome, but I'm very happy about the way we played.
"Two great teams played each other tonight and battled. Unfortunately, they made a couple more winning plays at the end to seal it.
"I couldn't be more proud of the girls and the effort they gave, and I think we're definitely heading in the right direction as a team."
Wangler added six points and four others had two for Mercy. Canton's Brianna Finn scored 10 points, Alanna Brown six and Madison Archibald four.
The Chiefs led by nine twice in the first half, but the Marlins closed the gap to 19-17 at halftime and took a 22-19 lead at the start of the third period.
Canton, after missing its first five shots of the second half, made five of the next six and scored 12 straight points to regain the lead, 31-22.
"I thought we really struggled in terms of other kids hitting shots," Morris said. "We kept trying to plug away, and I thought we were very fortunate tonight.
"While I say that, everybody should be very proud of what we've done. Given the schedule we've played and our inexperience to start the season, it's a nice accomplishment to go 5-0 for December.
"The fact we had those close games helped. I wouldn't say we like being in that situation, but we're fairly comfortable with it. We don't feel added pressure. I thought we turned it up a notch in terms of energy in that fourth quarter."