By Troy Mauriello
Danielle Patterson felt like she had left her Mary Louis teammates alone in a dogfight with two-time defending state Federation Class AA champion Long Island Lutheran.
The junior star picked up her fourth foul and was forced to the bench midway through the third quarter, only to find the game in her hands in the final seconds.
Patterson sank a buzzer-beating shot from the left block to give Mary Louis a momentum-building 43-42 win in non-league girls’ basketball Feb. 18 at Holy Cross. It is the team’s final game before the postseason.
“When I went to the bench, I was like ‘oh, man… I left my team out there alone,’” Patterson said. “But it just comes from like ‘hey, I gotta get back out there, and when I do, I just gotta make an impact however I can.’”
Despite her last-second heroics, Patterson wasn’t the only one making an impact for Mary Louis. While she did have 14 points, just four of them came in the second half as she fought with foul trouble.
Minnesota-bound guard Jasmine Brunson had a game-high 18 points, with 11 of them coming in the second half. She scored the Hilltoppers’ first seven points to keep them in the game early in the fourth quarter. With Patterson out she needed to take control.
“You definitely have to step up when one player goes down, whether it be foul trouble, injury, somebody has to step up and as a team we did a great job of that tonight,” Brunson said.
Mary Louis was able to escape with the win despite a sloppy offensive performance that extended well into the fourth quarter. After Brunson’s quick start the Hilltoppers had just one field goal in the game’s final six minutes before Patterson’s winning shot.
A basket from sophomore Vanerlie Valcourt gave Mary Louis a 41-40 lead with 2:55 remaining, and after some empty possessions for each team, TMLA held the ball with less than one minute remaining.
Junior Kayla Podlovits was able to haul down a huge offensive rebound after a miss, however, after Valcourt was fouled with 20.1 seconds left. She missed both free throws, leaving Lutheran with a chance to win.
LuHi turned to leading scorer Sarah Mortenson for its final possession, and the senior delivered. In her first game back following a concussion, Mortenson banked in a shot with 5.6 seconds left to give Crusaders a 42-41 lead.
Patterson made sure that lead didn’t stand up.
Her heroics were enough to send Mary Louis home with a victory on a play that was drawn up for her or Brunson.
“They took me away,” Brunson said. “So we gave it to the other guard, Val [Valcourt], and then we got it to one of our other main scorers, and she did the rest.”
No matter whom the final shot was drawn up for, Mary Louis pulled out a win after a pedestrian performance by both teams. The clubs combined for just three field goals in the second quarter as Mary Louis went into the half with a 19-18 lead.
The victory gave the Hilltoppers a 16-6 overall record to close out the season, but more importantly it gave them confidence heading into the diocesan tournament.
“I like to play them the last game of the season…it gets us ready for the playoffs,” said Mary Louis head coach Joann Arbitello-Pinnock. “They’re a very good team, they’re tough, we match up well with them every year, and it gets us ready for playoff time.”