Mercy hoops has chance to be a contender, in the league and beyond

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published December 5, 2016

 Mercy’s Bella Dugas (35) battles for a rebound during a loss to Port Huron Northern in the second game of the season. The Marlins are back in action Dec. 9 at Bloomfield Hills Marian.

Mercy’s Bella Dugas (35) battles for a rebound during a loss to Port Huron Northern in the second game of the season. The Marlins are back in action Dec. 9 at Bloomfield Hills Marian.

Photo by John McTaggart

FARMINGTON HILLS — A year ago, the Port Huron Northern girls basketball team made it to the Class A quarterfinals.

This year, the squad brought back four starters and is as dangerous as ever.

On Dec. 3, the Farmington Hills Mercy squad was tied with the Huskies in the fourth quarter before eventually falling.

There may be no moral victories for Gary Morris and his Marlins, but there’s plenty to take from an effort like that.

“We’re very pleased with this team and how things are going so far,” Morris said a day after his Mercy squad fell to Northern 47-43 at Calihan Hall. “This is a group that works very hard in practice, and in these first few games, really competes.”

That will be the goal for the season: to compete night in and night out, which will hopefully lead to another lengthy playoff run.

“This is a group that has a chance to be very good,” Morris added. “Especially come tournament time. … Playing a team like Northern really exposes some flaws, which is a good thing. We saw some things we need to correct, and now the goal is to fix them.”

This is a rather veteran team that Morris is working with.

Last winter, the Marlins went 17-7 before falling in the Class A regional final to Northville High.

But from that team, seven varsity veterans and three starters — Jackie Bauer, Katie Coe and Jenna Schluter — are back in the mix.

Mercy was 1-1 at press time, having beaten Plymouth Salem 44-32 in the season opener.

In the loss to Northern, freshman Jess Mruzik led the team with 13 points.

She brings a dimension of size to the team that Morris said the Marlins have lacked for the past seven years.

“She’s a legitimate 6-footer,” he said. “We haven’t had that in a long time. Playing against teams with size — when you don’t have it — makes it tough.”

Mruzik provides that luxury.

“That’s going to be key,” Morris said. “At the same time, we’re still trying to develop some depth. It’s something you need at various points of every season. But this is a very hardworking group. It’s a good group of girls that has the potential to contend for a league title and make a long run in the (state) playoffs.”