Farmington, Grosse Pointes
Mercy beats GP South to advance to Class A regional final
March 4, 2014
FARMINGTON — The hype, the build up, it was real and could be felt inside a small gym packed to the rafters with those coming to see two titans clash.
The start, though, nobody could have predicted.
“I couldn’t have written it much better,” Farmington Hills Mercy basketball coach Gary Morris said with a smile..
Morris sat in disbelief, like many others at Farmington High Tuesday night, as his Marlins seemingly couldn’t miss in the first quarter against Grosse Pointe South in a Class A regional semifinal.
From all over the offensive zone, Mercy launched shot after shot, make after make.
By the time the dust settled, the Marlins led 25-11 after one quarter, and while things would tighten up, Mercy never trailed, never looked back, and eventually moved on with 73-60 victory.
“It’s such a big win,” Morris said. “To beat a team that’s been the past two state finals.”
He stopped and smiled, still taking in congratulations from passing fans.
With a 23-1 record now, this could hardly be called an upset, but if there was a favorite coming in, even Morris said it was South.
But his team was ready.
“Our schedule prepared us for this,” he added. “The teams we played all year, Marian three times, for example, we were ready for whatever we were going to face here tonight.”
Despite the early deficit, South wasn’t going to go without a fight.
The Blue Devils trailed 36-24 by halftime, but played their best in the third quarter, pulling to within 43-41 at one point.
But the fourth belonged to Mercy. Well, it belonged to senior Candice Leatherwood, who scored 17 of her game-high 23 points in the final eight minutes.
Mercy outscored South 30-19 in the quarter.
“That’s a girl who’s not ready for her career to end,” Morris said simply.
“I just wanted it so bad,” Leatherwood said. “This was a huge win for us. We made a statement here tonight.”
The atmosphere was electric, the stage as big as its been all season.
But the Marlins were never intimidated, never rattled.
“I told them to enjoy it,” Morris said. “Why not? This is fun. That’s how we approached it.”
Taylor Jones added 18 points for Mercy, while Sierra Wangler scored 16 and Sam Bauer had 12.
Aliezza Brown scored 20 to lead South (22-2), while Bre’nae Andrews scored 17 and Cierra Rice had 16.
Mercy faces Detroit Martine Luther King in a 6 p.m. March 6 regional final at Farmington.
King is ranked No. 1 in Class A and beat Mercy in double overtime in last year's regional final.