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Mary Louis wins two to capture own tournament

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The Mary Louis Academy varsity basketball team captured the championships of its own Christmas tournament this weekend, defeating Preston and Walt Whitman high schools. The two wins improved the Hilltoppers to 5-3 on the season.

Mary Louis had a tough time reaching the finals, struggling past Preston Saturday to a 71-62 victory. The Hilltoppers trailed at the end of three quarters, 46-43, before outscoring their opponents 28-16 in the final frame.

“What was great about this game during the fourth quarter we had three freshmen out there,” said Mary Louis head coach Joe Lewinger. “It was great to watch.”

Mary Louis was led by freshmen Patricia Zillas and Jessica Fairweather, who had 15 points apiece. Senior Meghan Cumiskey chipped in 14 in the win.

It was the freshmen trio of Zillas, Fairweather and Casey Shevlin, called by Lewinger “the youth movement” that steadied the ship down the stretch. While the younger players attacked the basket, Cumiskey was able to sit back and pop jump shots to spur the late offensive explosion.

Preston, a Catholic school in the Bronx, was led by Christina Damo’s 20 points.

The win moved the Hilltoppers into the finals against Walt Whitman, a public school team from Suffolk. Falling behind early, 16-13 after the first quarter, Mary Louis cruised in the second half, outscoring Whitman 48-18 in the second half.

The win marked a measure of retribution for the Hilltoppers, who had lost to Whitman by more than 20 points in a non-league game the year before.

“This year we were able to return the favor,” Lewinger said. “They ran a clinic on us last year. In the first half, both teams were just not hitting their shots. No one could really get an open look at the basket. I think we opened up the court a bit more in the second.”

Mary Louis also dominated the board, attacking the defensive glass and not allowing many second looks at the basket for the visiting Long Island team. Julie Serewko, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, was crucial to that effort, leading the team with 10 boards.

“She’s there to play defense and she did an excellent job rebounding,” Lewinger said. “They weren’t getting shots. I think we might have let up like three offensive rebounds to the other team. Defensive rebounding was huge.”

Liz Flynn led the Hilltoppers with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Both Zillas and Liza Gallo, who missed the Preston match-up after suffering a sprained ankle in practice, scored nine.

With five wins, Mary Louis has already matched its win total for all of last year. The team will return to action Jan. 5 against rivals Archbishop Molloy, followed by St. Francis Prep on Jan. 9, Sacred Heart at St. John’s University on Jan. 11, then Christ the King on Jan. 14.

Bishop McNamara (Md.) 57, Christ the King 48. The Royals fell in the finals of the Tournament of Champions last week in Phoenix, Ariz. despite a 21-point, 11-rebound performance from Vionca Murray.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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