They opened the game with an onslaught of attacks, an arsenal of pressure that led to forced turnovers and transition buckets.
Very quickly, it was an 11-0 lead.
And just like that, before many in attendance were able to enjoy their first bite of popcorn, the night was, more or less, over.
Coach Gary Morris said his Farmington Hills Mercy basketball team had been struggling at the start of games lately, though Warren Regina would have never known it.
In the end, the Marlins left the Jan. 15 game with a 56-40 win. In doing so, the girls took home their eighth win of a season that had officially reached its halfway point.
Most years, this type of record wouldn’t be surprising.
“I guess I can’t say I’m surprised, but very pleased,” Morris said. “We’ve played a pretty tough schedule to this point, but the girls have really competed.”
And they have done so without a key ingredient most successful teams rely on — senior leadership.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a team without a single senior,” Morris added with a laugh. The Mercy roster consists of seven juniors and six sophomores. “It is a challenge. I mean, as high school kids mature, they sort of grow in to that senior leadership role. We don’t have that.”
But he does have plenty of talent and a good dose of experience.
The team’s captains — juniors Candice Leatherwood and Sam Bauer — are three-year varsity players.
“I guess it’s not a big deal to us because we don’t really think about what grade someone is or how old they are,” Bauer said. “There’s such a good vibe on this team, thinking about who’s a junior or who’s a sophomore, or whatever, has never mattered.”
“It’s weird, I guess, but it’s not really a big deal to us,” Leatherwood echoed.
Saying it is one thing, but playing like it is another, and the Mercy has.
The Marlins were 8-2 overall at press time and 2-1 in the highly competitive Catholic League Central Division entering a Jan. 18 game against a Dearborn Divine Child team that upended the Marlins in last year’s Catholic League championship.
“Experience has a lot to do with what we’ve done so far,” Bauer added. “We’ve all played together for a while now, so we understand it.”
With half the season remaining, including the league playoffs and the state tournament, Morris wasn’t about to look too far into the future.
But the Marlins’ coach wasn’t afraid to admit how fortunate he may be next year, as well, with nearly the same group in tact.
“As a coach, you have to love the fact that you could bring back all these pieces and have them for a couple years,” he said. “We’ve already seen some of the maturity with girls that were with us last year and are back now. So to have that again in a year is something you have to enjoy.”