The Our Lady of Mercy Bobcats are gearing up for the holiday hoops season. The Bobcats split with the Galloway School Scots on Tuesday night, the boys rallying to win 64-51 and the girls falling in overtime, 42-41.
The Bobcat boys put on an impressive display of guts and intensity, as they shook off a shaky first half to surge ahead to victory.
“I thought we were real flat in the first half. We challenged them at halftime and they really responded,” said Mercy coach Tony Caruso. “They battled back. I’m real proud of them. They showed that no quit, never die attitude.”
Galloway took advantage of a sluggish start from the Bobcats to build a sizable lead. A 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter turned into a lopsided 29-20 deficit for Mercy as they allowed a 9-0 run closing out the first half. Cedric Labat kept his team in it with three first half three pointers.
Galloway’s lead ballooned to double digits before the Mercy defensive intensity would force some cracks. Between the pressure on ball handlers and steady work on the glass, the Bobcats chipped away at the Scots. Labat’s hot shooting continued, and the rest of his team started heating up too. Aaron Urshery hit from long range to slice the deficit to four points. Charles Oakley notched a pair of consecutive buckets, including a three-point play, to get his team back out in front by one point.
A 42-42 tie heading into the fourth quarter would be as close as Galloway would get the rest of the night. Charlie Feldner’s hook shot early in the frame put the Bobcats ahead to stay. Point guard Anthony Caruso lit up the gym with his high-energy play, racing for a coast-to-coast layup with contact and hitting the free throw, tallying a putback on a missed shot, notched a steal and feeding Labat for an easy bucket, and finishing off his burst with a running putback and sinking the ensuing free throw. By the time the smoke cleared, Caruso had his Bobcats out in front 55-46. The rest was a formality as they salted away the clock in a commanding 64-51 finish.
The ending wasn’t quite so sweet for the Lady Bobcats. The Mercy girls saw a late lead slip away before they were edged out in overtime, 42-41.
Neither team was able to get separation for much of the game. Mercy surged ahead in the second quarter thanks to six consecutive points from freshman Jordan Patten. Leah Banks tacked on a bucket for a four-point advantage, but Galloway would knot it up at 19-19 going into the half.
Another freshman, Morgan Jones, keyed the offense early in the third quarter as the teams traded the lead. Banks notched the quarter’s final points on a baseline basket, pulling within one of Galloway at 27-26.
Mercy took the lead as Banks kept up her scoring pace. Their advantage would peak at six points thanks to a 9-0 run. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Galloway responded with a 7-1 run down the stretch. Mercy missed a handful of key free throws that could have iced the game, giving their opponents the chance to tie the game up at 38-38 with six-tenths of a second left in regulation.
Chi Chi Ekwuocha keyed the offense in overtime, sinking a free throw and feeding Deja Barthell for a basket as Mercy pulled back in front 41-40 with 30 seconds left. They would not score again, though, as Galloway nailed the winning shot with 15 seconds remaining.