Our Lady of Mercy, Landmark split rivalry showdown
Two excellent basketball programs showed they deserve to be ranked
among Class A’s best in a thrilling Friday night doubleheader. The
Landmark Christian boys won a 100-91 shootout, while the Our Lady of
Mercy girls pulled away late for a 52-38 victory.
In Class A, the playoff participants are selected via power rankings
with the top 16 teams making the postseason. Right now, three of
Friday’s four squads would be in (and the fourth is right on the cusp).
The teams played every bit like playoff squads with a big and boisterous
crowd helping to fuel the action.
Landmark’s boys surged in the second half and held on against a furious Mercy charge in a wild, high-scoring battle. “(Mercy) brings it every time. They’re ready and prepared and play
their hearts out against us. (Coach Tony Caruso) does a great job,” said
Landmark boys coach Chip McAllister. “We were getting good shots, they
just weren’t falling. Our team slogan is ‘let it fly,’ so none of our
kids should be afraid to shoot whenever. We knew if we kept fighting, we
would start making shots.”
The tip-off of the game might as well have been the firing of the
starter’s pistol at a track meet. Each possession had the feel of a fast
break as Landmark employed their usual breakneck pace on offense and,
on the other end, Mercy cracked the full court press with long passes
over the top of the defense.
Cedric Labat opened the scoring for the Bobcats with a three. Chib
Emefo added a pair of buckets in the first frame as Mercy built a slim
lead. Landmark surged in front, paced early by Zack Allen and his eight
first quarter points. Threes from Stockton McGuire and Jack Patterson
gave the War Eagles their first lead at 14-12. It grew to a seven point
margin before the Bobcats closed strong on another Labat three and
scores from George Haynes and Aaron Urshery to narrow the deficit to
22-19 at the end of the quarter.
Emefo tied the game on a trey to start the second quarter, then Josh
Hurst started the lead seesaw with a layup. Patterson and Allen both hit
from deep as the game hit a 28-28 tie. Mercy pulled back in front,
highlighted by a long pass from Anthony Caruso to Hurst for a lay-in.
Mercy was scorching hot to start the second half, ripping off an 11-1
run. Anthony Caruso kicked it off with a steal and coast-to-coast
layup. Labat followed with a three and Hurst finished it with a
spectacular up-and-under bucket and his own three. Mercy padded their lead a bit on a Charlie Feldner three and a circus
shot from Haynes, but Jackson Schultz cut it back down to 68-66 at the
Collier Schultz and Labat traded threes and the teams traded the lead
early in the fourth. Jackson Schultz pushed the War Eagles to a six
point lead with a three point play and free throws off a technical foul.
Hurst, Urshery, and Caruso hit threes and Haynes added a three-point
play to keep the Bobcats close at 86-83.
Landmark kept up the pressure and stretched their advantage to 93-83
with less than two minutes to play. Caruso did his best to keep the
Bobcats in the game, sinking two key free throws and two three-pointers
to make it a 96-91 with 17 seconds left.
Our Lady of Mercy had six players in double-digits, led by 18 from
Anthony Caruso. He was followed by Josh Hurst (15), Cedric Labat (13),
and the trio of George Haynes, Aaron Urshery, and Chib Emefo with 12
Landmark runs their record to a sterling 15-3 overall and 6-1 in the
region. Our Lady of Mercy drops to 10-6 and 5-3 in the region.