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Farmington Hills Mercy beats rival Marian for third time to claim Catholic League A-B title

By: Jeff Dullack, February 19, 2017, 6:55 pm

Detroit – Most coaches will tell you that beating any team three times in a season can be difficult and in Sunday afternoon’s Catholic League A-B Final, Farmington Hills Mercy was looking for its third win of the season over rival Birmingham Marian, along with its first league title since 2014.

After a slow first half for both teams, Mercy took a lead just before halftime and held a narrow lead throughout the third quarter before the Marlins would pull away in the fourth quarter for a 45-36 win.

Mercy head coach Gary Morris noted that along with the difficulty of beating Marian (13-5) three times in a season, it was even more difficult than usual considering the close contests the two teams had in the previous two games, with the Marlins winning both by a combined four points.

“Obviously it is tough, it’d be one thing if the margin of victory had been 20 points each time but it was one and three,” he said. “What worried me is that they (Marian) looked really good, especially offensively the other night in the semifinals, so as the saying goes, it’s tough to beat a quality team three times, but I’m just really proud of our kids.”

After taking a lead late in the first half on a 3-pointer from Godbold in the final seconds of the second quarter, Mercy would watch its lead grow to as large as five in the third quarter and took a 34-30 lead into the fourth.

Mercy opened up the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from Godbold that gave the Marlins their largest lead of the game, 37-30 with 5:32 left to play and not long after, freshman Jess Mruzik knocked down a 3-pointer of her own to put the Marlins on top, 40-32.

Morris said that his team is usually an effective perimeter shooting team, but credited Mruzik and Godbold for their clutch shooting in the fourth quarter to give the Marlins some breathing room.

“Generally, we’re a pretty good 3-point shooting team, not always, but fortunately we were today,” he said. “We’re confident and we have a number of players who we feel confident shooting the three, so Chloe and Jess really knocked down some big threes for us in that second half.”

Godbold would later help the Marlins put the game out of reach as she first knocked down a pair of free throws and after Mercy came up with a defensive stop, the senior point guard would score on a fast break layup to give her team a 45-36 lead late in the game.

In comparison to the first two games of the season, Morris said that his team struggled to take care of the ball, but still managed to pick up narrow wins, but said that he felt the Marlins did a good job in limiting turnovers this time around.

“This is the best that we’ve done against their pressure, so that was good to see, certainly,” he said. “In the first two games, they missed a lot of shots, but we had a lot of turnovers, so I thought we took much better care of the basketball.”

Godbold, who scored a game-high 19 points in the win, said that she felt that along with limiting turnovers, she and her teammates did a good job defensively and rebounding the ball as well.

“It was difficult, but when we did scouting reports, we made sure to improve on what we didn’t do in the last games we played them,” she said. “We just got out on shooters and grabbed more rebounds.”