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3rd Quarter Surge Buries Mercy

February 1, 2018

A blue moon rose over the western hemisphere yesterday for the first time in 152 years, a celestial wonder that seemed to forecast good things for a Mercy boys’ basketball team that had not beaten Stony Brook in their last 12 tries dating back to 2005. Instead, for the second time in three days the Bears turned back the feisty Monarchs by eight points to improve to 4-3 in League VII and move within one win of their 18th consecutive playoff berth.

On Monday the Bears traveled to Ostrander Avenue and never trailed in a 51-43 win. After a snow day on Tuesday, the Bears were back on the court Wednesday afternoon in a rematch with the Monarchs. It was a decidedly different affair as the Bears fell behind early, but a third quarter defensive blitz sealed the Bears’ fourth straight win and kept their home record at an unblemished 7-0.

Jai Narain opened the scoring the way he did on Monday: with a 3-pointer. A James Toney layup gave the Brook an early 5-1 lead, but from there Mercy proved to be the aggressor for the remainder of the first half. A 9-0 spurt by the Monarchs gave them their first lead over the Bears in their last three games, an edge they would maintain for most of the half. Trailing 5-10, the Bears battled back with six straight points thanks to a Toney layup, an Emil Vaughn fastbreak score, and a steal and score from Narain. But their 11-10 edge was short-lived as a Mercy 3-pointer reclaimed a 13-11 margin for the visitors. A pair of free throws from Owen Sobel with 3.3 seconds left knotted the score and the Bears seemed content to head into the second quarter tied at 13-13, but Mercy banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to nose ahead, 16-13.

After a Mercy bucket to open the second frame, a Toney layup–courtesy of a beautiful pass from Vaughn–and a Sobel offensive rebound and score cut the Bears’ deficit back to 17-18. From there Mercy reeled off six straight points to take a seven-point edge, their largest lead of the game. A baseline out of bounds alley-oop layup by Toney carved into the deficit and allowed the Bears to put on their press which yielded three steals over the final two minutes to get the Brook back in it. Andy D’Alessio once again provided a spark off the bench as he scored an old-fashioned 3-point play following a Vaughn steal. After a loose ball fortuitously led to a Mercy 3-pointer, D’Alessio closed the half with a key bucket, stealing the ball with 6.7 seconds left and converting the layup to pull the Brook within 24-27 at the break.

The Bears came out of halftime with renewed energy and immediately grabbed back the lead. A D’Alessio floater and a Narain 3-pointer gave them a 29-27 edge, but Mercy withstood the brief surge to grab back a 32-31 advantage. Sobel answered with two free throws, following another offensive rebound, to give the Bears a lead they would not relinquish, thanks to a suffocating defense that finally broke the spirited Monarchs. After a monster block by Seamus Scanlon, the Bears unleashed a 10-0 run over the final minute of the third quarter to seize control in a flurry of steals and layups. Toney ignited the run with a putback. Scanlon followed with a steal and score to give the Bears their largest lead of the game, 37-32. Vaughn followed suit with a steal and layup, then stole the ball again and fed Scanlon for a fastbreak layup as the lead swelled to 9 in a blink. After another Vaughn steal, Scanlon scored again to give the Bears an 11-point lead. A Mercy timeout did nothing to quell the fray as the the Bears defense frothed and clawed and gained the upper hand in what had been a very physical game to that point. Mercy finally scored in the waning seconds to trail 34-43 heading into the final quarter.

The Bear lead swelled to as much as 14 in the fourth after a 7-2 run powered by Narain’s third 3-pointer and back-to-back layups by Toney. From there the Bears cruised to a 54-46 win.

Toney led the way with 20 points while Narain (11), D’Alessio (7), Sobel (6 points/ 11 rebounds), Scanlon (6), and Vaughn (4) rounded out the scoring.

The Bears return to the court Friday night in a senior night match-up with Babylon.

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