For the first time in five seasons, the Mercy Academy Jaguars open up with a victory against the Eastern High School Eagles 74-69.
Mercy, who was state runner-ups last season, started the game on a 11-0 run with all 11 points coming from junior Hope Sivori. Eastern’s first field goal of the game came with 5:20 left in the first quarter when Tedi Nunn nailed a three-point goal. The Jaguars lead as much as 10 in the opening quarter. Mercy’s Ta’ziah Jenks hit a three to put her team up 21-13 at the end of the first quarter.
“Hope is a tremendous player though sometimes you have to reel her in a little bit. She’s kind of a firework sometimes we don’t know where she is going to shoot off to, but she is definitely a spark for us and a huge part of our team. Some of the things she does so well is she’s quick, she’s not real fast, but she is quick and she can make some spectacular plays and that is something she does very well. But if she can continue to focus on the little things she’s going to be even better. We need her to be a point guard and a leader out there,” said Keith Baisch, Mercy Head Coach. “ What she needs to learn is when the game starts to get real rowdy to settle it down and slow it down a little bit. I think once she gets to learn those things she’ll be one of the best point guards in the state and I think she is in my opinion. I know she’s not getting all the recognition all the other kids are getting but I love her to death. She is a lot like me so we bump heads a lot, but she’s a great kid and I’m just glad we will have her for another year after this.”
The Eagles cut the deficet to four late in the second quarter with a Kinnard field goal. The Jaguars led at half 32-26 after a Regan Berger jumper.
At the end of the third quarter Mercy extended their lead to 58-46.
The Eagles mounted a challenge pulling with in two late in the fourth quarter, but Mercy held on to win 74-69.
“ Eastern is one of the top 20 teams in the state and we have always had trouble beating them in the first game of the year. We usually end up playing them in the LIT or something like that and a lot of times we would get revenge on them but I hope it doesn’t work out that way this year and they get the win,” said Baisch. “To get this first win after everything we’ve been through in the summertime having lost two kids to ACL and one who left the team for personal reasons, all three were probable starters in our lineup. I thought Sidney Sheppard did one heck of a job tonight and then Regan Berger, our only senior, those two didn’t come out of the game they played the entire game and I couldn’t be more proud of those two. It’s great to get that first win it’s the first time in awhile that we have been 1-0.”