The St. Paul’s girls basketball team did not need much time to remove the suspense from Tuesday’s playoff matchup with Mercy.
The Gators scored the game’s first 13 points, and Alex Sawyers finished with 13 while Destiny Ryles added 12 as No. 8 St. Paul’s defeated visiting Mercy, 63-31, in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference second-round game.
St. Paul’s (21-3) has won 12 straight and advanced to the semifinals Thursday at home versus Maryvale, which beat Glenelg Country, 58-42, on Tuesday. The championship games for the A, B and C Conferences will be held Sunday at Stevenson.
St. Paul’s is trying to win a second straight B Conference championship.
The Gators simply had too much for Mercy (11-10) in this game. St. Paul’s was too fast, too quick and kept making shots from every angle. The Gators made 3-pointers, bank shots, layups and baseline jumpers, and the Magic could not stop them.
Plus, St. Paul’s kept up a relentless pace. The Gators kept running and running, forcing Mercy to work hard at both ends of the floor.
“That was the game plan — to make them run, run, run, run,” St. Paul’s coach Pat Conrad said. “We [also] shot really well and executed well.”
That began with that 13-point run in the first quarter. Sawyers banked in a 3 and added a layup, and Ryles finished it on a layup with 3:50 left in the quarter.
By the time Mercy got its first basket, a turnaround jumper in the lane from McKenna Carroll (11 points) 21 seconds later, the Gators were in control. St. Paul’s scored the next 10 points and held a 26-5 lead after one.
Sawyers agreed with Conrad that the fast pace and the early lead proved helpful.
“We wanted to run them out of the gym,” Sawyers said. “We go 100 mph in practice so we can go 100 mph in the game.”
The second quarter brought more of the same as the Gators pushed the lead to 42-12 at halftime. They also made life tough with their defense, often swarming the Magic, especially when a player got into the paint. Mercy found some good shots outside but just could not sink them and also committed 19 turnovers.
Conrad pulled out Ryles and Sawyers midway through the third quarter, and they watched from the bench the rest of the way. Still, St. Paul’s reeled off 12 consecutive points late in the quarter and took a 60-17 lead after three.
The fourth quarter proved the lone problem for the Gators. Mercy woke up on offense and scored 14 of its 31 points, with Taylor Gilmore leading the way. Gilmore posted seven of her team-high 13 points in that quarter.
St. Paul’s did not score until Sofia Konkolios hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining. But the outcome had long since been decided.
Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion’s team battled throughout the game. The Magic hustled and tried to keep up with the Gators, but St. Paul’s had too much and Mercy could not rebound from that early 13-point deficit.
“They started out ridiculously hot,” Marion said. “They made everything they threw up.”