Romero, fourth-quarter run propel TMLA past Kearney

It has become a matter of if not when for The Mary Louis Academy. The Hilltoppers have made long scoring runs off their fullcourt press and trapping defense a norm in games this season. Against Bishop Ford last Wednesday, they turned a 10-point halftime deficit into an 11-point, third-quarter lead.

“It’s not chaos,” Mary Louis coach Joe Lewinger said. “They are rotating very well. That may be something that this particular team and this particular season is known for.”

The run came at the opportune moment against Bishop Kearney. The Tigers had just rallied to take an early fourth-quarter lead. The Hilltoppers answered with a 12-0 run behind Camille Romero and Christy Calderon. It finally gave Mary Louis the breathing room it had been searching for all game in an eventual, 67-59 win over visiting Bishop Kearney in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls basketball last Friday night.

“We just really don’t want to lose,” Romero said. “We just find that energy.”

The senior guard scored 11 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter. She scored the first eight points of the Hilltoppers’ game-changing spurt, including a 3-pointer and a 3-point play off a steal from Calderon, who had nine points. Calderon then stole the ball from Kearney guard Jaclyn Grasso right under the basket for an easy two and then scored in transition to give Mary Louis a 55-46 lead with 4:52 left in the game.

“Everyone gets pumped up,” Calderon said. “Once one gets going everyone wants to keep doing it. A run like that you want to score as much as you can.”

Karin Robinson looked like her old self after being bench against Ford for what she called a misunderstanding after not falling to take a charge. The junior guard, who battled some foul trouble, scored 16 points and made all the key plays on the boards and in the passing lanes to help seal the win. Mary Louis (10-4, 6-2 B/Q) also play the majority of the game without sophomore guard Reana Mohamed because of a dislocated shoulder. Sam Retas led Kearney (9-8, 1-8) with 26 points and 10 rebounds and Taylor Raccuglia added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“Once we got to the fourth quarter, it is time to close things up,” Robinson said.

That’s something the Tigers have failed to do too often in league games this season. Kearney rode the momentum in a big third quarter. Retas excelled in the post with quick, sharp moves and both she and Raccuglia cleaned up on the offensive glass.

“I definitely played a lot better than I did my last two games,” Retas said.

The Tigers took a 46-43 lead to start the fourth quarter on four straight Raccuglia points. They again, though, lost their composure at the game’s most important moments. The pace and pressure quickened and again turnovers ensued. Kearney coach Rocco Sellitto feels like he has finally put his finger on the problem.

“The same little mistakes we make during the game become magnified in crunch time,” he said. “We get over it during the game because we can come back and score. When it is a close game, possessions are more valuable.”

The Hilltoppers though have thrived when things have been the toughest, because nothing has come easy this season, between injuries to key players and a lack of size.

“Everyone else contributes,” Calderon said. “When one is down or one hurts we always come out and do what they did for us and make it the best that we can.”

It’s been more than good enough so far.