The top-ranked Sacred Heart girls’ basketball team added to their winning streak on Sunday evening by defeating rival Mercy 75-50 on the road. The Valkyries used a strong defensive performance in the third quarter to push the game out of reach against the short-handed Jaguars.
“It’s a good feeling”, Sacred Heart senior Destinee Marshall explained. “I’m just happy that my team was able to produce. I’m excited and I thought it was fun.”
After ending the first half on a 9-2 run, Mercy was held to just four points in the third quarter and turned the ball over six times. The Jaguars went scoreless in the last 5:45 of the period.
“We talked a lot about focusing in on our defense”, Sacred Heart head coach Donna Moir explained when asked about halftime adjustments. “We focused on playing team defense and emphasized taking a lot of pride in it. We got kind of sloppy there for awhile.”
The Jaguars were without the star duo of TaZiah Jenks and Hope Sivori on Sunday evening, but fellow senior Paige Taylor got going early. She scored eight of the team’s 12 first quarter points and finished with a game-high 20 points.
“The biggest thing for us is getting her (Taylor) to believe in herself all of the time”, Mercy head coach Keith Baisch said. “I’m hoping she’s gained confidence over the last couple games and believes in herself like we do.”
However, a balanced Valkyrie attack proved to be too much. Marshall finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and six assists; the all-around impact is one that she seeks.
“My role is to distribute”, she said. “I feel like I have good basketball IQ; I know I can score, but I like to find open teammates. I want to get everyone involved.”
Triniti Ralston (17), Josie Gilvin (11), Erin Toller (nine), and Alex Wolff (eight) also paced Sacred Heart in scoring.
The victory marks the 17th straight for the Valkyries (25-1), but the team has no trouble remaining grounded.
“We don’t even talk about it”, Moir said. “It’s business for these kids. They have a goal and a mindset; we just play whoever is out in front of us.”
“We just stay motivated”, Marshall added. “We don’t worry about wins and losses. We just like to keep playing and go to work every day in practice.”
Sacred Heart will turn around and host Scott on Tuesday.
Along with Taylor, Mercy (17-9) was led by Sidney Shephard and Madelyn Muthler, who both scored six points. The Jaguars will finish the regular season on the road at Christian Academy (Louisville) on Thursday.
“I thought we fought really hard in the first half”, Baisch explained. “We did the things we were needing to do, but if we hit a couple of more shots it might’ve been a little different. We had some wide open looks, but they just didn’t fall. They’re (Sacred Heart) such a good transition team; they’re the number one team in the state for a reason and playing like it.”
Jenks and Sivori are set to return soon, but that doesn’t stop Baisch from forming expectations for his current rotation.
“We need a little more vocal leadership”, he said. “We need more consistency to fight and change the mindset to know what defense is being implicated after made baskets.”
Additional: The two teams took the time before the game on Sunday to celebrate the life of Scott “Scooter” Kremer, who passed away last weekend. He was a well-known and respected coach and ambassador of girls’ basketball in Louisville who was loved by many. May he Rest In Peace