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February 5, 2014

With best record in Morris’ tenure, Marlins take aim at Catholic League title

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Junior Talyor Jones (23) and senior Sam Bauer share a laugh during a game earlier this season. Mercy was 12-1 overall and 5-1 in league play at press time.

They sat in the bleachers at Calihan Hall sharing a bond with one of the teams on the floor few else in attendance could relate to.It was three years ago, and Allie Gorcyca and Sierra LaGrande remember it as if it were last week.

“Something I’ll never forget,” Gorcyca said.

“To watch them go out and beat a rival,” LaGrande began, searching for words to finish her thought. “It was just so fun to see them fulfill their dreams.”

The two spoke of the Farmington Hills Mercy basketball team and the conclusion of the 2011 Catholic League playoffs.

It was that winter, with a 46-42 victory against Livonia Ladywood, that Mercy snapped a league title drought that dated back to 1983.

Gorcyca and LaGrande were freshmen at the time, members of the junior varsity team that had a front-row seat for the title game.

Now seniors, they, and the rest of the Marlins, are taking aim at a repeat performance.

“That’s kind of where the season goals start,” coach Gary Morris said. “You take so much pride in this league, and especially the Central Division. We like to think it’s one of the tougher divisions in all of the state, so if you’re able to reach the finals and have a shot at a title, it really means you’ve accomplished something pretty great.”

The league playoffs officially begin Feb. 8, with games at Madonna University.

The semifinals are Feb. 12 at Novi Detroit Catholic Central, while the A-B Division final is set for 3 p.m., Feb. 16 at Calihan Hall.

Opponents and game times for the opening round were not available at press time.

So far, the Marlins have established themselves as a team to beat in the league, putting together a 12-1 record and a 5-1 mark in the Central Division.

The lone loss, a 57-54 overtime decision at Marian, was avenged three weeks later with a 40-38 victory at home.

Morris cautioned against penciling his team in against Marian just yet, though.

“That’s the thought, I’m sure, that it’s going to come down to us and them,” he said. “But the thing is, in the playoff opener, there’s a good chance we’ll see a team we haven’t played this season (from the AA Division). And if we move on, then we’re likely to see a team we’ve played twice, maybe even one we’ve beaten twice. And there’s nothing easy about playing a team for the third time.”

Still, with 12 wins in 13 tries, Morris’ group is shaping up like few, if any, have before it.

The 12-1 start is the best he’s had at Mercy — even better than his 2006 team that ended 20-5.

His roster is filled, from top to bottom, with girls who have been on varsity for three or four years.

Of the Marlins’ seven seniors, there’s a combined 22 years of varsity experience, and 11 of the 13 girls were on the team last winter.

“This group is hungry. We have something to prove,” LaGrande said. “The goal is to stay focused, keep doing what we’ve done and find a way to win (the Catholic League).”

“We want this year to be our year — our turn to play at Calihan,” Gorcyca said. “It’d be something pretty special for those of us who haven’t done it before.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.