Landmark girls cruise past rival Mercy in foul-marred game
What was supposed to be a Class A region showdown between No. 4 Our Lady of Mercy and No. 8 Landmark Christian turned into an uneven spectacle riddled with inconsistent whistles and shoddy officiating.
Seven players fouled out of the game and several missed calls marred a crucial game for both the Lady Bobcats and War Eagles. The teams struggled to get into a rhythm and that led to bad shooting, turnovers, and frustration from everyone involved.
When the dust settled, Landmark was able to pull out a 65-56 win at home and moved to 10-8 on the season. However, the lack of consistency left War Eagles’ coach Jackie Freeman a little disjointed with how the game played out.
“I felt like it was an emotional game and at some points it got out of hand,” Freeman said. “It was a little frustrating for me as it is a rivalry that was going on long before I got here. The win is important for region play because they beat us and we wanted to return the favor.”
The War Eagles hounded Mercy with defensive pressure and forced star forward Morgan Jones into uncomfortable situations. Jones struggled with her shot and spent most of her night dodging defenders on drives to the rim.
“We wanted to stop her euro-step and we had to use different defenses and double-teams to make her do something she doesn’t want to do,” Freeman said. “I think we were successful in pressuring her constantly and not giving her a lot of daylight.”
In the first quarter, she started 1-for-4 from the field and was hit with a questionable technical foul midway through the period. The technical would play a major role as it forced Jones to the bench and allowed Landmark to jump out to a 20-7 lead.
Jones would respond and bring her team back in the second quarter. She led a 16-5 run to give Mercy a chance. She had 13 points in the period as the Bobcats closed the deficit to 25-23.
It wouldn’t be enough as the two-point deficit was the closest Mercy got to taking the lead. Landmark bounced back with a 7-0 run of their own to close out the period. They headed to halftime with a 36-27 lead behind junior guard Elizabeth Gibbs, who had 25 points in the game.
Jones finished the game with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but sat for much of the second half due to fouling out at the 7:11 mark of the fourth quarter. Her absence forced Mercy to count on other starters to carry the load.
Senior guard Eboni Winston stepped up with 15 points to keep Mercy in the game, but missed free throws doomed their comeback attempt.
“We got to make layups and free throws,” Mercy coach Kevin Walker said. “I told the girls that you have to be prepared and we will fix that really soon.”
Landmark took control late in the fourth quarter behind six points from junior Katelyn Lee. The buckets helped seal the victory and earned praise from Freeman for her mental toughness in a key moment.
“It is normally not her role, but it is nice to see a kid to have the confidence to step up and seal the game for us,” Freeman said.
The loss dropped Mercy to 16-2 on the season and ended their 16-game winning streak. It is likely that both teams could square off in the region playoffs.
If that is the case, Freeman said her team will be ready to battle again.
“We have some things that we are working on to get ready for postseason play,” Freeman said. “When we start region playoff play, everyone starts at 0-0 and we got to focus on the things we need to do long-term.”
McAllister eclipses 1,000 career points as Landmark bests Mercy
Landmark Christian head coach Chip McAllister was waiting for this moment for days. As his son, Micah McAllister, hoisted up a breakaway lay-up he couldn’t hold back his excitement.
A wide smile came across his face as Micah became the ninth member of Landmark’s “1,000 points club” and the first junior to receive the honor. It was a special occasion for the father and son duo as they led Landmark to a 69-50 win over Our Lady of Mercy on Monday night.
“I was thinking about it a lot during the day as he was only six points away,” Chip McAllister said. “I was thinking of all the hours we would come up here, even at 12 o’clock at night, to watch him shoot and put up shots. It all paid off for him.”
Micah lead the team with 27 points and capped off his career evening in style. He displayed his range with five made 3-pointers and found himself in the paint all night. He fed off the energy of the War Eagle home crowd and helped carry the team to their 11th win of the season.
“It feels good and I have been working for this all my life,” Micah McAllister said. “My dad has helped me with everything since I was five years old. He has been in the gym with me all the time.”
The excitement extended to McAllister’s family as they packed a small segment of the Landmark section armed with cameras and smart phones to capture the moment. Lisa McAllister, Micah’s mom, was able to snap the historic bucket.
“He started playing basketball at a young age and his first words were ball,” Lisa said. “I knew he was going to do it as he only needed six points. It has been fun to watch him persevere. It is an exciting moment for him since he is just a junior.”
Landmark continued to ride McAllister’s hot hand by limiting Mercy to just one attempt per possession. They also forced the Bobcats into 19 turnovers which were primarily the result of getting deflections in the passing lane.
This allowed the War Eagles to hold a 31-17 lead at halftime. Mercy tried to produce a comeback in the second half behind juniors Taj Dodson and Jason Moran, but the duo couldn’t bring Mercy closer than eight points in the contest.
Dodson led Mercy with 16 points and Moran chipped in with 14 points. However, the rest of the team failed to get involved. Only sophomore Nonso Emefo reached double-figures with 11 points after the game was well in hand.
Chip McAllister was proud of how his team played in the game. He noted there are things to work on, but he knows his team is on the right track.
“I had a feeling that we would shoot the ball flat in the first half,” Chip McAllister said. “In the second half, we got our legs under us and we shot a lot better.”
Landmark returns to action on Tuesday with a crucial road game against Strong Rock Christian. A win can help them get back into the Class A region playoff race.
Mercy returns home to face Fulton Leadership Academy on Tuesday as well.
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