- Mercy Monarchs 2017 Section V A Champions, Western Regional Champions and NYS Semi-Finalists
- Section V Championships: 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2010, 2016 and 2017!
- NYPHSAA Championship: 1985
- Section V Runner Up: 2005, 2012, 2014 & 2015
VARSITY VOICES- GIRLS BASKETBALL
Jeff DiVeronica talks with the Mercy girls basketball coach Tom Vasey and junior forward Katie Titus about the big win over Bishop Kearney and the Monarchs' bid to repeat as Section V champions. Jeff DiVeronica, Olivia Lopez, Virginia Butler
Mercy fends off feisty Bishop Kearney
Bishop Kearney shot out to an 11-0 lead in the first three minutes of Monday night’s girls basketball showdown at Mercy. The Monarchs answered by scoring the first 15 points of the second quarter, and back and forth they went.
The Private-Parochial League rivals traded counter punches and showed why they’re the top-ranked teams in the Democrat and Chronicle large-school coaches’ poll, but No. 1 Mercy prevailed, 75-65, to stay unbeaten at 6-0. The feisty Kings fell to 6-2.
“If you look at the last couple games we’ve had against each other, that’s just the way it is,” Monarchs coach Tom Vasey said of the pace and big swings. “It doesn’t matter what team gets up. The other is coming back.”
He remembers a few years ago Mercy built a 20-2 lead. By halftime, it trailed by four. Monday was a rematch of last year’s Section V Class A1 title game, won 65-60 by Mercy. Kearney won the Section V title over the Monarchs in 2015. Both schools are in Class AA this season.
Junior forward Katie Titus led Mercy with 26 points and 21 rebounds and junior guard Traiva Breedlove added 21 points and 10 rebounds and made a couple of back-breaking plays in the fourth quarter to keep Kearney and its frantic, full-court pressure at bay.
After trailing by 15 points with four minutes left, the Kings cut the deficit to six. But Breedlove beat the press, sized up her defender, eighth-grader Camille Wright, and converted on a layup as she was fouled. Her free throw to complete the three-point play made it 73-64 with 1:20 left.
“If you don’t have anyone on her that’s her size you have a serious mismatch,” Kearney coach Kevan Sheppard said of Breedlove, who plays bigger than 5-foot-8
Ruth Koang, a 6-4 junior center, scored 10 of her 18 points during Mercy’s 15-0 surge to open the second quarter. It led 39-31 at halftime. Koang and the 6-1 Titus held 6-2 Kearney eighth-grader Saniaa Wilson, who was in foul trouble, to seven points and 11 boards. She averages 16 points.
“That’s probably the only team that can neutralize Saniaa. She really only played a quarter and a half,” Sheppard said.
Eighth-grade guard Marianna Freeman played fearlessly, scoring 27 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, for Bishop Kearney. Wright added 17 points and junior Allure Simmons had only 3 points but 7 steals and 8 assists. Lytoya Baker, a 5-10 sophomore, had 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Kearney’s full-court press repeatedly frazzled Mercy, and that’s a concern for Vasey, whose team has 12 returnees from last year but only two starters (Breedlove and Titus).
“We’re like yin and yang. We have trouble guarding their bigs and they have difficulty guarding our guards,” Sheppard said.
The rematch is Feb. 10 at Kearney.
“When you have a pressure team like that, they force you into mistakes,” Vasey said of the Kings’ speedy guards. “But we played them and we battled.”
Mercy 75, Bishop Kearney 65
Bishop Kearney 21 10 18 16 – 65
Mercy 12 27 17 19 - 75
Kearney (6-2) leaders: Marianna Freeman 27 points; Camille Wright 17 points; Lytoya Baker 11 points, 14 rebounds; Allure Simmons 7 steals, 8 assists.
Mercy (6-0) leaders: Katie Titus 26 points, 21 rebounds; Traiva Breedlove 21 points, 10 rebounds; Maggie McDonough 6 points.
No. 1 Mercy, No. 2 Bishop Kearney girls clash in basketball
Mother Nature hasn't been kind to Mercy and Bishop Kearney. The schools, who remain the top-ranked teams in the Democrat and Chronicle's large-school coaches' poll, have each had two games wiped out due to inclement weather. That may have slowed down their improvement this season, but the good news for each squad is they were already really talented.
Who is better?
We find out Monday when the Private-Parochial League rivals square off at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy. The No. 1 Monarchs (5-0) are coming off Saturday's 74-47 win against Sacred Heart, their first action since Dec. 22. Junior forward Katie Titus led the way with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
No. 2 Kearney is 6-1, but hasn't played since Dec. 29. The Kings' game Saturday against Mount Saint Mary's at St. John Fisher College was postponed because of snowy weather in the Buffalo area prevented the visitors from traveling.
Some other schools, such as third-ranked Pittsford Mendon (11-0), have played more than twice as many games as Mercy. But Monarchs coach Tom Vasey knows this: "Whenever we play (Kearney) I know this: We’re going to get the best out of each other," said Vasey, who's team finally got the better of the rivalry last winter.
There is a healthy respect between the coaches, Vasey and Kevan Sheppard. Some players have also suited up on the same AAU teams, and Vasey said, only half-jokingly, the programs also share a kinship as local private schools. They feel they're viewed by many public schools as the enemy because they're allowed to play in the Section V and state public schools tournaments.
Kearney holds a 6-2 advantage in the rivalry's last eight games but seven have been close. The Kings swept both regular-season matchups in 2013-14 (by five and seven points) and 2014-15 (by nine points twice). Last year featured three great games. Kearney won the first, 59-56, in January but Mercy won 57-53 in February and then rallied to win the Section V Class A1 title game, 65-60.
It ended Kearney's four-year run as a sectional champion. That included the only blowout in the last three years, a 64-46 romp in the 2015 sectional title game by the Kings. Many Section V Girls Basketball fans think Kearney and Mercy will be the teams left standing again in this year's Class AA championship on March 4.
With 12 returnees from last year's state semifinalist, the Monarchs hold the edge in experience. They're led by junior guard Traiva Breedlove, who averages 15 points per game, and also rely on twin towers, Titus and Ruth Koang, both juniors. The 6-foot-1 Titus and 6-3 Koang each average about 14 points.
Kearney features four eighth-graders, two seventh-graders and two sophomores on its 11-player roster. Eighth-graders Saniaa Wilson (16.1 points per game/10.6 rebounds) and Marianna Freeman (12.1 ppg) are the top scorers and junior guard Allure Simmons (7.8 ppg) can also be a dynamic scorer slashing to the basket. Wilson already has been offered a scholarship by Syracuse University.
Wilson has led Kearney in scoring four times and Freeman three times.
"We know what each other is going to do every time we play," Vasey said of himself and Sheppard. "It's a matter of who makes adjustments and who plays better."
It's a big week for Kearney. It plays at another private-school rival, Aquinas, on Thursday.
The Little Irish (11-0), who got 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals from junior forward Kayla Jackson in Saturday's 65-38 win over Buffalo Nardin, are the No. 1 team in the D&C's small-school poll.
No. 1 vs. No. 2
Matchup: Mercy (5-0) plays Bishop Kearney (6-1) in a Private-Parochial League girls basketball showdown.
When/where: 7 p.m. Monday/at Our Lady of Mercy.
Rankings: The Monarchs are ranked first and Kearney is second in the Democrat and Chronicle's large-school coaches' poll.
Last year: After splitting regular-season games decided by four points, Mercy won the Section V Class A1 title game, 65-60, over the Kings.
Return matchup: Feb. 10 at Kearney.
1. Mercy (5)
Previous rank: 1
2. Bishop Kearney (1)
Previous rank: 2
3. Pittsford Mendon
Previous rank: 3
Previous rank: 4
Previous rank: 5
Previous rank: 9
7. Edison Tech
Previous rank: --
8. Hilton (tie)
Previous rank: 7
8. Honeoye Falls-Lima (tie)
Previous rank: 6
Previous rank: --
Also received votes: Gates Chili, Pittsford Sutherland, Wilson
Girls basketball poll puts Mercy on top of Section V
When Mercy’s trip to Erie, Pennsylvania, for a game last Friday was canceled because of bad weather, the Monarchs didn’t take the night off. They had an “impromptu team dinner,” coach Tom Vasey said.
That’s how much they like being together.
The Monarchs have developed a bond, more like a family, Vasey said, and they’re going to need it this winter because they’ll get everyone’s best shot. Not only is Mercy a defending Section V champion, but also it debuts as the No. 1 team in the Democrat and Chronicle’s first girls basketball large-school coaches’ poll. The Monarchs (2-0) received seven of 10 first-place votes.
Their Private-Parochial League rival, Bishop Kearney, is ranked second and got one first-place vote. No. 3 Pittsford Mendon received two after a head-turning, 57-52 win Tuesday over No. 4 Penfield, the defending Section V Class AA champion
Mercy returns 12 players from a state semifinalist team that rallied from 10 points down twice in the second half to beat Kearney in last year’s Section V Class A1 final, knocking off a school that had won four straight titles. But Section V has moved both Mercy and Kearney (3-2) up to Class AA for this season.
“We certainly understand that and we’re up for the challenge,” said Vasey, who is in his eighth year as coach.
Despite the abundance of familiar faces, only two returnees were starters: guard Traiva Breedlove, a junior who averaged 13 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists; and 6-foot junior Katie Titus, a forward (9.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg). Leah Koonmen would have been a key playmaker again, but the junior guard tore her ACL playing AAU basketball last fall and is out for the season.
That puts more pressure on the dynamic Breedlove to carry the load with junior Alex Hetterich and sophomore point guard Maggie McDonough. Junior Emily McDonough, Maggie’s sister, and freshman Emily Tabone are other backcourt players, and 5-foot-10 senior forward Danielle Raymond will lend front-court depth. Tabone averaged 8.5 points for Churchville-Chili last season.
But the big transfer — and we’re not exaggerating — is Ruth Koang. The 6-3 junior center used to live in the Rochester area and moved back last summer from Minnesota. She basically slides into the starting spot vacated by 6-2 Jayla Myles, the All-Greater Rochester center who graduated and is now at Division I Howard University.
“With (Koang) they can extend the floor and be aggressive (defensively) because she can protect the basket and make up for any mistakes,” Penfield coach Mark Vogt said.
That’s exactly the plan. Vasey said the Monarchs, who mixed in lots of 2-3 zone last year, plan to use more pressure on the perimeter. They allowed only 39.8 points per game last year. In two wins this winter, they’re right on track, allowing only 39 per game in a 56-21 win over Section VI’s Mount Mercy and a 70-57 win at Fairport.
“The addition of (Koang) might just be too much of an added bonus to an already really good team,” said Kearney coach Kevan Sheppard, who has an ultra-young but talented squad anchored by 6-foot Saniaa Wilson, an eighth-grader who already has been offered a scholarship by Syracuse University. “But we’re excited for the challenge.”
The rivals play Jan. 9 at Mercy and Feb. 10 at Kearney. Mercy lost the 2015 sectional final to the Kings 64-46 and the 2014 title game 42-40 to Pittsford Sutherland. Last winter, the Monarchs came out on top and reached the state semifinals before losing to Jamesville-DeWitt. They want to experience that again.
“I think they’re pretty focused,” Vasey said. “Trai, Katie, the girls that were there last year, they’re really motivated. They want to win sectionals again and get back to states, realizing it’s going to be a tougher challenge going through Penfield or Kearney again.”
Top 10 Large Schools
Coach: Tom Vasey (8th season, 105-45 record).
Last season: 22-4 (won Section V Class A1, lost in state semifinals).
Key players: G Traiva Breedlove, jr.; 6-foot-1 F Katie Titus, jr.; 6-3 C Ruth Koang, jr.
Outlook: The Monarchs lost some leaders off last year's title team and junior guard Leah Koonmen tore her ACL in the off-season, but they still return 12 players and are really good. Titus averaged 9.6 points and 7.2 rebounds and Breedlove (13 ppg, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists) is explosive going to the hoop. Two transfers will help, especially Koang, a standout from Minnesota. Freshman Emily Tabone also arrives from Churchville-Chili, where she averaged 8.5 points last season.
2. Bishop Kearney
Coach: Kevan Sheppard (8th season).
Last season: 17-5 (lost in Section V Class A1 final).
Key players: 6-foot F Saniaa Wilson, 8th; G Allure Simmons, jr.; F Lytoya Baker, soph.
Outlook: What the Kings lack in experience — they have 10 underclassmen and just one senior — they make up for in emerging talent. That starts with Wilson, who averaged 14.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks last winter and has already picked up a scholarship offer from Syracuse University. Kearney will miss Rosa Graham's floor leadership, but Simmons (10.6 ppg last year) is one of the area's best finishers in the open floor. The Class AA final could end up just like the last two A1 finals: Mercy vs. Kearney.
3. Pittsford Mendon
Coach: Todd Julien (15th season, 288-59).
Last season: 18-4 (lost in Class A2 final to Batavia).
Key players: G Sara Lyons, sr.; G Mackenzie Winn, sr.; F Caroline Cullinan, sr.; F Alana Fursman, soph.
Outlook: The Vikings opened plenty of eyes with Tuesday's 57-52 win and that was coming off a 60-56 upset of Williamsville South, one of Section VI's top teams. That should provide a jolt of confidence. Lyons is off to a terrific start, averaging 18 points and leading her team in scoring in three wins during Mendon's 4-0 start. Winn returns from an ACL injury and Fursman also has made a quick leap from a JV squad that went 20-0. She's averaging 10.8 points. She had a team-high 16 points against Penfield.
Coach: Mark Vogt (17th season, 252-68).
Last season: 22-2 (won Section V Class AA title, lost in regionals).
Key players: F Makaila Wilson, jr.; G Brianne Moxley, soph.
Outlook: The Patriots relied heavily on All-Greater Rochester pick Wilson and Moxley in their first two games, a lopsided win and a 57-52 loss to Mendon, and that may not change for a while. Developing that third option as a scorer will help, but Wilson is good enough to dominate at times on both ends all by herself. With only three seniors on the team — guards Gabby Pancio, Olivia Colombo and Jenna Russell — the Patriots will need to mature to be a contender. Some tough tests await over the next two weeks.
Coach: Mark Schaller (2nd year).
Last season: 13-9 (lost in Class AA semifinals).
Key players: F/C Caroline White, sr.; F Hannah Miller, sr.; G Megan Yawman, sr.
Outlook: An AGR pick last year, White is one of the area's top players and has led the Red Raiders in scoring three times in their 3-1 start. She had 14 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in Tuesday's win over Webster Thomas. Miller and Yawman are also off to good starts in supporting roles. White left the 70-57 loss to Mercy with an injury but came right back and the Red Raiders rebounded with solid wins over Hilton and Webster Thomas, both ranked in the D&C poll, and will get another huge test Tuesday hosting Mendon.
6. Honeoye Falls-Lima
Coach: Steve Willoughby (27th year, 455-155).
Last season: 12-10 (lost in Class A2 semifinals).
Key players: G Taryn Wilson, jr.; F Megan Slymon, sr.; G Maddy Meehan, sr.; 6-foot F Kara Oatman, soph.
Outlook: A 4-0 start for the Cougars has included wins over Pittsford Sutherland, Webster Schroeder and Canandaigua by five points or fewer. That's how a team with four returning starters that was just above .500 last winter can learn how to win the close ones. Paige Smith, last year's top scorer on JV, also should help. Wilson has scored 25, 20 and 19 in three of those wins and is averaging 17.5 points. Meehan has also hit double figures in the last two wins. If Willoughby's team can get past Batavia and Greece Odyssey next, that could set up a Dec. 28 showdown of unbeatens on Dec. 28 in the first round of the Mendon Holiday Tournament with the host school.
Coach: Jeff Eichas.
Last season: 19-4 (lost in Section V Class AA final).
Key players: G/F Alyssa Juergens, jr.; G Allyson Strauss, sr.; G Chloe Graupman, jr.; F Meghan Schiano, soph.
Outlook: Cadets counted on standout guard Cameron Graupman to make them go last year. She averaged 24.4 points per game. They'll need everyone to do a little bit more this winter, and Strauss and Juergens are keys. Each averaged about 8.5 points per game last winter and are capable of more. A 1-2 start has included losses to Kearney and Fairport. The schedule eases up over the next two games, but then it's Penfield (Dec. 22) and Fairport (Dec. 28).
8. Webster Thomas
Coach: Jason Charno (3rd year, 32-31).
Last season: 9-13 (lost in Class AA quarterfinals).
Key players: F Kelly Weeks, sr.; G Miranda Lynch, jr.; G Kayla Farney, jr.; F Caitlin Sanders, sr.; F Emily Glagolev, sr.
Outlook: All five starters return, led by Weeks, who averaged 12 points and eight boards, and Lynch, who averaged 11 points. In addition to experience, Charno likes his team's depth. Weeks scored 24 and 17 points in the Titans' first two wins but was limited to only six in Tuesday's 44-29 loss to Fairport. Three winnable games are next; that could help boost confidence in the early season.
Coach: Sam Rizzo (10th overall, 5th at Brighton, 96-92).
Last season: 17-5 (Lost in Class A1 semifinals).
Key players: G Meg Flanagan, sr.; G Miyah Sizer, jr.; G Makalah Sizer, jr.
Outlook: Flanagan, an All-Monroe County pick last year averaging 14.2 points and 5.3 rebounds, gives the Barons a guard with size who presents matchup challenges for smaller opponents. She'll have to lead the way, much as AGR pick Brooke Wolff did last winter. Flanagan has averaged 15 points in the Barons' 2-1 start and Miyah Sizer has averaged 13. Brighton gets a decent test Friday when it hosts a 4-1 Brockport team.
Pittsford Mendon's Ellie Mooney, right, dives on a loose ball as she battles Pittsford Sutherland's Hannah Catallo-Stooks for the possession during a game last season. Both schools are ranked in the first D&C Large-School Coaches' Poll this winter. (Photo: SHAWN DOWD/@sdowdphoto/, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
10. Pittsford Sutherland
Coach: Dan Judd (16th season, 219-120).
Last season: 10-12 (lost in Class A2 semifinals).
Key players: G Lena Kaufman.jr.; G/F Ellie Pestorius, jr.; G Mary Bayer, sr.; G Hannah Catallo-Stooks, jr.
Outlook: Four starters are back for the Knights, so there is experience on the perimeter. However, they'll need a stable of young forwards — sophomores Cami Eder and Libby Kenneally and junior Julia Koron — to develop and provide some low-post offense, or defenses will be able to push out on the guards and close out more on shooters. Pestorius and Bayer each scored in double figures in wins over Victor and Canandaigua that followed a season-opening loss to Honeoye Falls-Lima, 58-52.
Large-School Coaches' Poll
1 – Mercy (7)
2 – Bishop Kearney (1)
3 – Pittsford Mendon (2)
4 – Penfield
5 – Fairport
6 – Honeoye Falls-Lima
7 – Hilton
8 – Webster Thomas
9 – Brighton
10 – Pittsford Sutherland
Also received votes: Brockport, Edison, Gates Chili, Irondequoit, Irondequoit, Rush-Henrietta, Wilson, Wayne.
Ram-tough Jamesville-DeWitt stops Mercy
Ram-tough Jamesville-DeWitt stops Mercy
TROY — Traiva Breedlove said Friday the Mercy basketball team would be back in the postseason.
Breedlove, a sophomore guard, helped Mercy prove it was a sectional championship-caliber squad, a team that expects to return most of its players next season.
This season, the Monarchs ran into a state championship-caliber team, Jamesville-DeWitt, a 56-47 winner over Mercy in the semifinals of the Class A state tournament.
"We set our goal to get here, and obviously we fell short today, but you can't take it away from the girls,'' Mercy coach Tom Vasey said. "We played hard all season long, and we ran into the better team today.''
This is the third consecutive year Jamesville-DeWitt from Section III has reached a state final, and it showed against Mercy at Hudson Valley Community College. The Red Rams from the Syracuse area take on Floral Park-VIII in the final 7 p.m. Saturday at the junior college.
"We watched film of the team,'' Mercy senior center Jayla Myles said. "We were impressed, not overly impressed, but they came out and played a very good game. They outplayed us today.
"I know we let the shooters shoot, we knew where we had to be and we didn't get there. Personally, in the middle, a lot of things happened that shouldn't have happened.''
(Photo: ADRIAN KRAUS)
The Red Rams, runner-ups the last two years, have never won a girls basketball state championship.
"These kids' basketball IQs are pretty high,'' Jamesville-DeWitt coach Rob Siechen said. "They play a lot of basketball, and the fortunate thing is that they play a lot of basketball together. We've had long seasons the last couple of years, and that helps us out.
"We've played in a lot of different environments, so the kids do have to adjust to different things in-game and between games. It's a credit to them, they've really put in the work, they allow us to coach to them, (to the point where) they can adjust on the fly. A lot of the time now, they can make adjustments without me having to yell them out.''
Breedlove was named to the all-tournament team after she scored a game-high 23 points. Leah Koonmen made Jamesville-DeWitt pay somewhat for double-teaming Myles with a 15-point game, including three 3-pointers.
It wasn't enough to offset 19 points by guard Carly O'Hern, including four 3-pointers, that helped the Rams end Mercy's season in its first state final four appearance in 30 years.
"It's really disappointing because we're like a family, we've been together, but it's been awesome,'' Breedlove said. "We won sectionals for the first time in four years. We got together as a group. We honored my coach's daughter (after she died).
"I love the girls that I play with and I'm really proud of us.''
Jamesville-DeWitt 56, Mercy 47
J-D 14 20 11 11 – 56
Mercy 9 17 9 12 – 47
J-D: Carly O’Hern 19, Angela Bussone 2, Meg Hair 9, Julia Kelner 4, Kasey Vaughan 6, Julia Fairbanks 2, MaryKate Scheftic 5, Jamie Boeheim 9.
MERCY: Leah Koonmen 13, Abby Purcell 1, Jayla Myles 8, Traiva Breedlove 23, Katie Titus 2, Alex Hetterich 0, Danielle Raymond 0.
3-pointers: Koonmen 3, Breedlove; O;’Hern 4, Hair, Vaughan 2, Scheftic.
Mercy wins a 'Doozie' over rival Kearney in title game
GATES — A few times when it looked like Bishop Kearney had too much speed and a lead that could turn Friday night’s Section V championship game into a runaway, the Mercy Monarchs said a key word together in their team huddle.
That’s the nickname of Ashley Vasey, the daughter of Mercy coach Tom Vasey who died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep last winter on Jan. 5, 2015. She was 3.
“As we said it we kept getting back into the game,” Monarchs senior center Jayla Myles said. “I never once through this entire game doubted that we would win.”
They won, all right, in a back-and-forth thriller at Gates Chili High School. The top-seeded Monarchs dug out of 10-point holes twice to topple rival and second-seeded Bishop Kearney, 65-60. Mercy (20-3) will play Class A2 champion Batavia (20-2) in Tuesday’s Class A state tournament qualifier.
“We’ve been here three straight years (to the finals) and the girls were tired of losing,” said Vasey, the Monarchs’ veteran coach whose program hadn’t won sectionals since 2010 and lost last year’s title game to Kearney (17-5). “Our goal is to get to states. Sectionals was just a second steppingstone for us.”
The victory also ended Kearney’s sectional run. Coach Kevan Sheppard’s team had won four in a row. The Kings will be back, though. They were led by sophomore guard Allure Simmons (19) and seventh-graders Saniaa Wilson (14) and Marianna Freeman (13). Simmons had a triple-double with 12 rebounds and 11 steals. Wilson had 11 boards and six blocks.
Mercy’s post players did damage, too. Sophomore forward Katie Titus scored 13 of her career-high 17 points in the second half. Sophomore guard Leah Koonmen had 15 points and Myles and sophomore guard Traiva Breedlove, who was named tournament MVP, each had 14. Myles added 12 rebounds.
“We know what each other likes to do. They’re coached great. Tom is great with these girls. He makes all the needed adjustments,” said Sheppard, whose team has played Mercy six times the past two seasons. “We weren’t able to keep the game at the pace that we wanted it at.”
It changed when Kearney senior point guard Rosa Graham turned her ankle in the second quarter. The Private-Parochial League rivals split regular-season meetings this winter.
The Kings led 17-10 after a steal on the press and layup by the speedy Simmons and 28-18 after one of the four 3s. Freeman hit in the half. But Mercy Koonmen scored five points late in the half and the Monarchs were down 33-28 at the break.
At halftime, Vasey told his team it had to be more aware of Freeman and contain Wilson in the lane. “I think our defense really locked down on them,” he said.
But Simmons kept hurting Mercy with run-outs. Kearney led 46-36 midway through the period. Mercy kept counter-punching, though.
Sophomore guard Alex Hetterich dove to the court to force a turnover. Abby Purcell, the only other Mercy senior with Myles, grabbed the steal, sped upcourt and hit Koonmen for a fast-break layup as she was fouled.
Breedlove’s fast-break pass to Titus for a layup gave the Monarchs their first lead, 49-48, since it was 10-9 late in the first quarter. Six straight points — layups by Myles, Titus and Breedlove — gave Mercy a 60-52 lead with 3½ minutes left.
But Kearney rallied. “It was crazy,” Breedlove said of the momentum swings.
Purcell dropped in a jumper. Myles blocked Graham’s runner in the lane and Koonmen and Breedlove each grabbed offensive rebounds in the final 40 seconds to help preserve the win.
“I’m thrilled,” Vasey said. “This is a great group of 15 girls.”
A little one they all said goodbye to 13 months ago helped get them through. The players wanted to win for their coach, too.
“He’s the strongest man that I know. He’s been through so much,” Breedlove said.
No. 1 Mercy 65, No. 2 Bishop Kearney 60
KEARNEY: Marianna Freeman 13, Lytoya Baker 0, Rosa Graham 7, Bri.Asia Mason 3, Saniaa Wilson 14, Allure Simmons 19, Ari Smith 2. MERCY: Abby Purcell 5, Alex Hetterich 0, Jayla Myles 14, Traiva Breedlove 14, Katie Titus 17, Leah Koonmen 15, Emily McDonough 0, Danielle Redmond 0.
3-point goals: Kearney (Freeman 3, Graham, Mason); Mercy (Purcell). Fouled out: none.
2014-2015 CLASS A1 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
VICTOR – Four years, four different classes, four sectional titles. The Bishop Kearney girls have faced a new challenge in each of the past four years, but the results have all been the same. The Kings can call themselves sectional champions once again. What began four years ago in Class CC culminated Friday night at Victor High School in Class A1.
The top-seeded Kings utilized a dominant third quarter to run away with their fourth straight sectional title, this one a 64-46 win over third-seeded Mercy.
Asked the reason for his team's dominant stretch, Kearney coach Kevan Sheppard delivered a simple answer: "I've had Kharysma Bryant since she was in eighth grade.
"The credit doesn't go to me. We've had a really good team and really good players for the past four years. We just want to play the best teams."
"We're just telling people that no matter where they put us, we're just going to try to be the best that we can," added Bryant, a senior guard who will play at Niagara. "We're just trying to prove to people that no matter where you put us, we're going to give our all."
Bryant was named the tournament MVP as she finished with 22 points. Senior forward Princella McCullough added 17 points and junior guard Bri.Asia Mason totaled 14 points for the Kings (18-4), who will face A2 champ Pittsford Mendon (17-4) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Aquinas in the Class A state qualifier.
Bryant totaled nine points in the first quarter, including seven straight at one point, as Kearney took a 19-11 lead.
Bishop Kearney extended its lead to 10 points on two separate occasions.
Mercy (13-9) closed the first half on a 10-3 run, trailing 30-27 at the break. The Monarchs got a spark from their bench. Freshman guard Traiva Breedlove scored seven points.
Angelina Spampinato scored in transition to bring Mercy to within 30-29 at the onset of the third quarter.
"The second half is when we dominate," Bryant said. "That's what we did. I didn't want this to be my last game.
"Our main focus was pressure. We know that they don't have a true point guard. We pressured Angelina, so we could steal the pass and get the easy lay-up."
Kearney closed the quarter on a 14-2 run as the Monarchs went nearly six minutes without a point.
The outcome wasn't to his liking, but Mercy coach Tom Vasey couldn't find fault with the effort of his team, especially following the tragic and sudden death of his 3-year-old daughter Ashley in early January. Vasey left the team for a few weeks, leaving the team in the hands of his assistant coaches.
"There are seven great seniors on this team and my assistants are amazing," Vasey said. "They all provide a lot of leadership. They really held the program together while I was gone. I am extremely proud of them. I don't think many people thought we would be in the finals and most people probably thought that we wouldn't be within three points of Kearney at halftime."
MERCY: Anna Doerr 0, Abby Purcell 1, Rachel Lefebre 0, Mia Caterisano 6, Alex Hetterich 0, Rachel Vespucci 4, Rose Hefferon 0, Catherine Tucci 2, Traiva Breedlove 8, Angelina Spampinato 12, Jayla Myles 9, Leah Koonmen 2, Alex Raymond 0.
BISHOP KEARNEY: Dominique Wotjczak 0, Rosa Graham 5, Bri.Asia Mason 14, Arianne Smith 1, Trinity Fitts 0, Kharysma Bryant 22, Princella McCullough 17, Deja Johnson 0, Allure Simmons 5.
3-point goals: Bishop Kearney (Graham 1, Mason 2, Bryant 1).
Coach of the year: Tom Vasey (Mercy). All-Tournament Team: Khamera Muhammad (Wilson), Sara Ciotta (Greece Athena), Angelina Spampinato (Mercy), Princella McCullough (Bishop Kearney), Mia Caterisano (Mercy), Bri.Asia Mason (Bishop Kearney). Tournament MVP: Kharysma Bryant (Bishop Kearney).
2013-2014 CLASS A1 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Ally Judd wasn't expecting to be inserted into the Class A1 championship until overtime.
She won it in regulation.
Judd made a breakaway layup with 5.1 seconds remaining as Pittsford Sutherland outlasted Mercy 42-40 for the sectional crown at Finger Lakes Community College on Friday.
Tournament MVP Liz Greendyke scored a game-high 16 points but her biggest play came on defense.
The Monarchs had the ball under their own basket with 10.6 seconds left. Greendyke skied to deflect the inbounds pass to herself, drew a defender near midcourt and found a slashing Judd for her only points of the game. Mercy's 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
"I don't play a lot and thought maybe I would get in in overtime for some defensive pressure," Judd said. "It was a big surprise to get the win like that. I've never had a winner before."
"We knew we had a foul to give so we could be extra aggressive," said Knights coach and Ally's father Dan Judd. "We didn't need a hero play but Liz made one. We're not a dominant team by any stretch. We've just been able to win a lot of these close games."
It wasn't close early on.
Greendyke and Santita Ebangwese each scored six points in the first quarter and Sutherland (20-1) led 20-6 midway through the second. That's when Mercy began to chip away at the lead. The Monarchs closed to 22-15 at halftime.
Erin Koscwiewicz buried a 15-footer, Jayla Myles put back her own miss and Koscwiewicz nailed a 3 from the right corner to give Mercy its first lead, 33-32.
"I was a little worried," Dan Judd said. "Once they finally got over the hump and took the lead we had to trust our defense. And it came up big."
Bayley Axelrod hit a 3, her second of the quarter, to put Pittsford Sutherland ahead 38-34. Ebangwese battled for a rebound and putback to make it 40-38. Danielle Cleary responded with a driving layup to knot it at 40 with 40 seconds left. The Monarchs (15-6) got the ball back after Sutherland missed two free throws and had a shot at the win. That's when Greendyke's steal snatched the victory.
"I've been watching other teams win sectionals for the past five years after losing in the semifinals," Greendyke said. "I would sit on the sidelines so jealous of them. It's a fantastic feeling and I'm really grateful I get to share it with these girls."
Myles collected 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks and Megan Hobler grabbed 11 rebounds for Mercy.
Ebangwese, who also won a volleyball sectional title in the fall, finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Knights.
2012-2013 CLASS AA SEMI FINALS
IRONDEQUOIT – Staring at the end of your high school basketball career can make you see things differently.
"Seniors don't want to go home this time of year," Pittsford Sutherland coach Dan Judd said.
His top-seeded girls and third-seeded Mercy will play in Friday's 7 p.m. Class A1 championship at Finger Lakes Community College after semifinal wins on Tuesday.
They got there, in part, thanks to a pair of senior guards. Sutherland's Liz Greendyke scored 14 of her career-high 32 points in the third quarter to help the Knights finally shake off stubborn East High, 56-37. In the first semifinal at Eastridge High, Mercy's Danielle Cleary scored half her team's 16 points in the third when the Monarchs started to finally grab hold of what turned into a 66-51 win over defending champion and No. 2 seed Pittsford Mendon.
Cleary finished with a game-high 19 points.
"That's the senior leadership every team needs to get to a sectional final," said Mercy coach Tom Vasey, whose team is in its third final in five years.
The Monarchs (15-5) won in 2010 and lost in 2012. Sutherland (19-1) hasn't captured a sectional since its 2006 squad won the state crown.
No. 4 East (14-6) threw a scare into the Knights, and Greendyke admitted unfamiliarity with the Orientals gave them concern. East led 15-5 early in the second quarter and 23-22 at halftime.
Pressing East turned up the tempo, something the deeper Knights wanted, and Greendyke bookended a 15-1 surge with fast-break layups, the first off a good pass from Allie Panara and the second from Bayley Axelrod.
"She's versatile. She can get it inside. She can get it outside. She's tough to guard," East coach Mario Velazquez said of Greendyke (17.4 ppg).
She finished with five 3-pointers. By the end of the third quarter, when she scored 14 of Sutherland's 20 points, Greendyke had 29 points, two better than her previous best. "Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don't," she said. "I just have to keep telling myself that if this one doesn't fall, there's a chance that the next one will."
Senior forward Abby Judd chipped in with five points and 11 rebounds.
Mercy led 8-0 and 25-16, but senior Kelsey Julien (15 points, four 3-pointers) helped get Mendon (14-6) back in it. It was tied at 25 at halftime.
"We just got beat up inside. We've had trouble with big forwards," coach Todd Julien said of what Mercy's trio of 6-footers — Mia Caterisano, Jayla Myles and Megan Hobler — did to Mendon in the second half.
Myles had 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Caterisano had 13 points, 7 boards and 4 blocks. Hobler had six points. Cleary was a constant, steadying the Monarchs when they needed it.
"We're definitely playing some of our best basketball right now," said Cleary, whose older sister, Harley, won three sectional crowns and a state title at Nazareth.
2011-2012 CLASS AA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Top-seeded Athena defeated No. 3 Mercy, 65-36 to claim its sixth title in 10 years. Senior forward Shannon Kirkpatrick (24 points, 11 rebounds) and senior point guard Dana Cohan (10 points, 8 assists), both varsity players for five years, led the way.
2009-2010 CLASS AA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
(Class AA final)
1 2 3 4 Total
14 12 9 8 43
11 10 16 20 57
GATES — They talked about it in gym class Thursday morning, the Mercy Monarchs did, not that they haven't been talking all season about winning a Section V basketball title again.
"Trust me, we looked up at the banner — 1996," point guard Mary Kate Tierney said, naming the last championship. But the wait is over for the all-girls school that was a perennial power in the 1990s, when Mercy vs. Greece Athena for a sectional patch seemed like an annual ritual in basketball and soccer.
Tierney scored 10 of her 15 points to spark an 18-4 surge early in the fourth quarter that snapped a tie at 35 and sent the top-seeded Monarchs on to a 57-43 victory over No. 2 Athena in the Class AA title game at Gates Chili High. Mercy (19-2) will play Fairport or Gates Chili in the state qualifier.
"This is a great feeling," Tierney said.
The tournament MVP added 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Senior guards Kelsey Bullis (11 points) and Sarah Hasenauer (nine) made big baskets as Athena (15-6) kept close tabs on Tierney and Greta Buerman (six).
The Trojans, who beat Mercy in the 2005 title game as part of their run of four straight that ended last year, were led by forward Samantha Garbacz.
"She killed us in the first half," Tierney said.
Garbacz scored 14 of her 18 points before halftime, but then the Monarchs focused on limiting the senior's touches.
"They went matchup zone and we were a little confused. We weren't attacking gaps. We were slow to move the ball," said Athena coach Mike Butler, whose club led 26-21 at half. "We don't throw the ball away 12 to 15 times we'd have been OK."
Tierney's driving layup closed the third quarter with Mercy ahead, 37-35. Then Hasenauer drilled a 3-pointer just 26 seconds into the fourth, Tierney converted a three-point play and then stole a crosscourt pass and sank a pull-up jumper in transition for a 45-37 lead.
"I was feeling it tonight," Hasenauer said.
Garbacz scored to try to settle Athena, but then Hasenauer knocked down her third 3-pointer and Tierney sank a long 3 right after that. Suddenly, Mercy was up 51-39 with 4:43 remaining and the emotion of the moment sent Tierney high-stepping back on defense.
"I think the turning point was she really carried us on defense in the fourth quarter, getting after rebounds and securing them," first-year coach Tom Vasey said.
He moved the 5-foot-11, All-Greater Rochester pick to point guard early in the season because Mercy needed a leader. She still averages about 21 points and 15 rebounds.
"I appreciate the opportunity I've had to coach this team. Having seven seniors made the transition easy," Vasey said.
ATHENA: Nina Korn 2, Emily Shoemaker 0, Stephanie Imon 2, Brie Capezzuto 0, Stephanie Orago 0, Abby Beigeman 0, Emily Suemaker 0, Dana Cohan 8, Brittany Quataert 7, Brittany Brown 2, Christina Leonardo 0, Shannon Kirkpatrick 4, Samantha Garbacz 18, Lauren Kelley 0, Talia Pringle 0, Keri Kephart 0.
MERCY: Liz Geen 4, Addie Cunningham 0, Kelsey Bullis 11, Sarah Hasenauer 9, Caitlyn Schiano 4, Katie Strong 7, Mary Kate Tierney 15, Ellen Fedick 0, Victoria Tucci 0, Greta Buerman 6, Tylar Guerrieri 0, Danielle Fuss 1.
3-point goals: Cohan, Bullis, Hasenauer 3, Tierney. Fouled out: Cohan.
D&C Game Story & Photos