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OH LOURDES! IT'S DEJA VU FOR MT. MERCY IN CLASS C

Maybe one day Mount Mercy will be able to play a team other than Our Lady of Lourdes in the state Federation tournament.

The teams met for the Class C championship for the second straight year and the outcome was the same.

Sinead McLoughlin's quickness and Christina Henry's strength inside proved too much for Mount Mercy, which fell to the public school champion from Poughkeepsie, 69-59, in the Class C final at the Civic Center.

It was the fourth consecutive Federation title and fifth overall for Lourdes (25-2), the four-time public school champion. The five Federation championships ties the record -- at least temporarily -- held by Christ The King, which goes for its sixth straight Class A crown today against Sachem.

"To win one of these is great, but to be a five-time champion is a tremendous accomplishment for these girls," said Lourdes coach Brian Giorgis. "It says a lot about these girls to be able to beat a team of Mount Mercy's caliber."

Mount Mercy (22-5) won the state Catholic title each of the past two years, but turnovers and cold free-throw shooting Saturday kept the Magic from their first overall championship.

"It's always tough to lose, especially at this point," said first-year Mount Mercy coach Ammy Granville. "But I'm so proud of the way they played all year. They played together as a team and it was such an honor to be here."

McLoughlin and 6-foot-1 center Henry were the difference for Lourdes.

McLoughlin, the game's most valuable player, scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Henry added 23 points and 10 boards. The two combined for 21 first-half points to give Lourdes a 36-30 lead.

Despite 11 first-half turnovers, Mount Mercy stayed close by outrebounding the taller Lady Warriors, 20-10.

"We knew we could outrebound them," said Beth Grys, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds. "We aren't big, but we have people who are strong inside."

Renee Witt played a key role in keeping Mount Mercy in the game. The 5-10 forward finished with 17 points (8 for 10 from the field) and a game-high 13 rebounds.

"They had taller players, so I just tried to use the hook shots and moves Ammy taught me," said Witt, who made the all-tournament team along with Grys. "It worked for most of the game, and I was able to get my shots off without a lot of problems."

Unfortunately, disaster struck when Witt went to the bench with her fourth foul with 7:21 remaining and the Magic trailing, 52-41.

The Lady Warriors quickly took advantage, using an 12-6 spurt over the next three minutes to open a 64-47 lead. Mount Mercy could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

"They started to beat us inside," Granville said. "They just threw that lob pass over the top and we weren't big enough to stop it with Renee out of there."

Mount Mercy got off to a quick start before McLoughlin scored 11 points in the first quarter to put the Lady Warriors ahead to stay, 21-13.

Lourdes led by as many as 12 points in the first half and shot better than 50 percent (48.2 for the game) because its full-court pressure defense led to several layups off Mount Mercy turnovers.

"It could have been a lot worse," Granville said. "We had a lot of turnovers and they cashed in on all of them. That's what really killed us. We didn't take care of the ball."

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