Young Magic squad battles to the end under Marion's successor
By Nelson Coffin
Former Mercy assistant coach Dave Sikoris' debut at the helm of the Magic did not go the way he had hoped at Bryn Mawr's Van Bibber Field House on Wednesday afternoon in an interconference basketball showdown.After building a 33-23 lead near the end of the third quarter, the B Conference Mawrtians charged ahead on a 16-3 closing spurt to knock off the A Conference Magic, 39-36.
"We maintained our intensity and our poise, too," Bryn Mawr senior forward Zoe Zawisa. "We have a lot of really great senior leaders (Katie Groenke, Georgia Carroll, Alexa Philippou) and we're all excited to play this season."
Considering Bryn Mawr is coming off an injury-riddled 5-16 record, it's understandable why there is such an emphasis on garnering a quick start.
Meanwhile, Mercy was hoping for a similar feel-good opener for Sikouris, who inherits the post after a long tenure as an assistant to the dean of area coaches, Mary Ella Marion, who stepped aside and is now the school's full-time athletic director.
Kendyl Cochran, right, looks for a rebound of what she hopes is a
missed free throw by Bryn Mawr freshman Jordan Askew in the
Mawrtians' 39-36 victory on Wednesday.
"We were together for eight years," Sikorus said. "We were working on using a lot of new things, different looks for the kids, so I don't think it will be a big change. We're a little younger this year and a little quicker. We just have to wait and see how we all fit in."
A young Mercy backcourt was certainly feeling the pressure after point guard Sierra Davis fouled out midway through the final period and sophomore Caroline Cummings and freshmen Kamille Smith and Morgan Cobb took turns running the offense.
Without an experienced floor general, Magic shooters had difficulty finding good open looks at the basket.
In the final 10 minutes, Mercy's only basket was a stick-back by Christina Bayton, and by that time Bryn Mawr had secured the lead.
Leading, 33-23, after a pair of free throws by Cobb late in the third quarter, the Magic went cold after sophomore Quichey Johnson's jumper in the paint cut Bryn Mawr's deficit to single digits heading into the final frame.
After sophomore Grace Greene (game-high 11 points) swished a jumper from the baseline on an assist from freshman Jordan Askew, the Mawrtians were in full rally mode and they finally tied the score on two Zawisa free throws moments later.
Greene's put-back gave the hosts a 35-33 lead with 4:32 remaining that expanded when Carroll converted two more from the line.
After that it was defense and fine work on the boards by Groenke
that sealed the Magic's fate.
Cobb and Bayton had nine points each in defeat for Mercy.
"This team is something special," Bryn Mawr coach Mimi Walters said. "We don't really have a go-to scorer. We just look for the best shot and the girls are happy for whoever scores."
For Mercy fans, it must have seemed more than a little odd without Marion patrolling the sideline for the Magic.
Although Sikorus did act as an interim a few years ago when
Marion was ill, for the better part of three decades she has been
synonymous with Mercy basketball, posting a 389-322 record with a
stellar 18-10 mark in the annual showdown against archrival IND,
also known as "The Game."
She also played in two of those games for the Magic, so none of its lore is lost on Marion.
Given the length and breadth of her career, it's no wonder that she "felt like it was the right time" to step down.
Besides, it gives her more time to visit her daughter, Maggie, who is earning a master's degree at the University of Kansas.
"My joke is that I fired myself, since I am the athletic director. It was just a gut decision," she added. "There was not one thing or aspect, just that the timing was right. I still love watching the sport, but it was time for someone new to lead the team. Dave understands what it is all about in regards to coaching high school girls, and how a season is run at Mercy. He is the right person for the job."