Mercy’s girls basketball team finally got the big win they’ve been looking for, dealing No. 6 Glen Burnie its first loss of the season, 61-56, Saturday afternoon at the Public vs. Private Challenge at McDonogh.
The No. 9 Magic built a 10-point lead late in the third quarter and held off Glen Burnie’s comeback sparked by stellar senior guard Amourie Porter, who finished with 32 points.
The Gophers took a 52-51 lead on two Porter free throws with 2:12 to go, but the Magic (10-6 overall) came right back. Lauren Panageotou fed McKenna Carroll off an inbound pass for a 53-52 edge with 1:37 left in the game and the Magic never gave up the lead
For Mercy, which moved up to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference after winning the B2 Conference last season, the game started with 10 first-quarter turnovers that helped the Gophers open with a 14-6 lead.
“It wasn’t a great start, but then, we needed this one,” said Milan Brown, the Magic’s sophomore point guard. “We knew what it would take to get the win, so we made sure in the second quarter to strap up on defense so we could get some turnovers and points and we also knew we had to take care of the ball.”
The Gophers (12-1) took their first lead of the game at 18-16 when Olivia Liszt converted a steal midway through the second quarter. They later expanded that to 31-22 with a 9-2 run to finish the half.
Mercy’s 6-foot-4 forward Myah Hazelton grabbed two late rebounds and scored the final two baskets of the half, the last on a buzzer-beating hook shot.
Hazelton, a junior, finished with 14 points and six rebounds while 6-foot senior forward Carroll had 16 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Liszt scored 13 points, including two free throws that all but sealed the win.
In the final 1:17 of the game, Brown hit a runner and then added a free throw to give the Magic a 56-54 edge. Liszt then hit both ends of a double bonus with 14.6 seconds left for a two-possession lead.
“I was just thinking about winning the game and focusing,” said Liszt. “I knew the free throws were big and we really needed them at that time. This is a really big win for us. It’s our first upset of the season, so it’s a really big win going into St. Frances on Monday.”
With 10 seconds left, the Gophers Lania Nicks cut the lead to 58-56 before Brown added another free throw. Porter had a 3-point attempt to tie but it rimmed out and the Gophers were forced to foul Brown on the rebound with .9 seconds left. She hit both free throws.
Magic coach George Panageotou said his team overcame adverse situations against Glen Burnie that they had not against other top teams. They had struggled in the third quarter and could not hold leads. Saturday, they pulled through despite Hazelton fouling out with 3:44 left in the game.
“We gave up the lead in the fourth quarter and we found ways to make plays and finish,” Panageotou said. “This is invaluable to the team, because now we know we can do it. Before when we went down and we weren’t able to come back, we doubted ourselves, but now we’ve got the second half of the season and we get to play everyone again in the conference. It’s really good for us.”
Before Glen Burnie, Mercy had played seven ranked teams with just one win — over Old Mill, which has since dropped out of the Top 15
Glen Burnie defeated Old Mill twice, including 68-54 Friday night, as well as No. 14 Hereford, but the Mercy game was their first showdown with another Top 10 team. The Gophers, who reached the Class 4A state semifinals last season, had not lost a regular-season game since February of 2020.
Gophers coach Sam Porter said his team created most of its own problems. They didn’t execute the game plan, he said, but added that the Gophers will learn plenty from the experience and it will help them heading into the playoffs.
Last season, the Gophers were 22-0 before they lost to eventual state champion Western, but Porter said every loss is a lesson and this could be a especially valuable one if it helps in postseason.
PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE CHALLENGE
NO. 9 MERCY 61, NO. 6 GLEN BURNIE 56
Mercy 10 21 14 16 — 61
Glen Burnie 14 8 17 17 — 56
Mercy — Milan Brown 14, Lauren Panageotou 3, Myah Hazelton 13, McKenna Carroll 16, Logan Jefferson 2, Olivia Liszt 13. Totals: 16 17-21 60.
Glen Burnie — Starr Munford 2, Cassidy Wilkerson 5, Amourie Porter 32, Lania Nick 7, Alchatta Soumaoro 8, Layla Washington 2. Totals: 19 15-20 56.