With a steal and a score early in the second half, Marymount appeared to take control of their January 27 game with host Holy Child. The Lions’ six-point advantage represented the biggest lead of the day in what had been a back-and-forth affair. Then the Gryphons lowered the boom.
Holy Child (7-6) erased that 31-25 deficit by holding their opponents scoreless for the next nine minutes while unloading offensively with 22 unanswered points to cruise to the 53-38 victory.
“We switched from a zone to man-to-man and it gave us energy on both defense and offense,” said head coach Mike Duignan. “A lot of what we did on defense created transition buckets the other way. It got us on a roll, and we were able to spread the court and find mismatches once we had the lead.”
Freshman sparkplug Shannon O’Connor galvanized the effort with a pair of steals and five of the first seven points in the run, beginning innocently enough with a baseline jumper. Holy Child cut the lead to 31-29 after senior Eileen Beck deflected a ball that O’Connor stole and took the distance. Junior Julie Duignan then made a brilliant pass to Beck underneath for two, knotting the score. O’Connor, who finished with ten points, put the Gryphons ahead for good when she nabbed another ball and was fouled on a strong drive to the hoop.
“She is hard-nosed, fearless and a high scorer who did a great defensive job,” said Duignan of O’Connor. “She frustrated them and knows that her role is to be aggressive offensively.”
As well as O’Connor played, point guard Kate Hughes was perhaps even better. The junior finished with 16 points, two rebounds, two assists, and a key steal that sent her streaking to the basket for a bank shot high off the glass while being fouled. She calmly swished the free throw to extend Holy Child’s lead to 39-31.
Senior captain Molly Schauber was her usual strong self under the boards, with nine rebounds and eight points. Her partner down low, the ever-improving junior Stephanie Taylor, filled up the box score with nine points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
“We usually play a 2-3 zone where we put our wings on their 3-point shooters with Stephanie at home controlling the paint,” said Duignan. “She gets in the way, blocks shots, rebounds and is a defensive force, allowing our guards to gamble.”
The score sheet doesn’t adequately capture Beck’s value to the team. Duignan said she stabilizes the Gryphons and is asked to perform a lot of different roles, from power forward to point guard. Although her contributions aren’t always calculable, she has the rare ability to make teammates better.
Holy Child’s victory against Marymount was their fifth in six games after a 2-5 start.
“I felt we were getting better as the season went on, but now we’re seeing the wins,” said Duignan. “There was a period where I think we had to figure out what role different players would play. This team has strong work ethic, especially the seniors who set a great example for the younger players. It’s showing and I think we have a team that is going to improve the whole way.”