HARTFORD >> It may have seemed impossible to live up to the hype. Two years of talk, debate and questions of, “What if Mercy could play Capital Prep?” Those question were answered resoundingly Monday in front of 1,855 at the Chase Family Arena on the campus of the University of Hartford as second ranked Capital Prep defeated top-ranked Mercy 88-48.
And as far as living up to the hype, Capital Prep’s Desiree Elmore was never worried about hype, just the final score.
“If there’s any more questions about who the No.1 team in the state of Connecticut is, we’d be happy to play them,” she said. “We showed everybody there shouldn’t be any more talk of who the No. 1 team in the state of Connecticut is. We proved it tonight that we’re No. 1.”
Capital Prep and Mercy have been ranked No. 1 and 2 in the GameTimeCT.com / Register Top 10 Poll for the past two seasons. The Tigers won the state championship in 2013, gaining the top spot in the poll. The Trailblazers have won back-to-back state crowns, winning the 2013 title in Class S and last season’s Class L over rival Weaver. Capital Prep coach Tammy Millsaps said this game was great for girls basketball.
“People in Connecticut love girls’ basketball and we get a piece of that,” she said. “People want to see good basketball, kids compete and kids who have the ability to play on the next level and that’s what this game brought today.”
The game was loaded with Division I college prospects, as future Maryland Terrapin Kiah Gillespie scored 28 points and grabbed 12 and Syracuse commit Desiree Elmore had 32 points and collected 10 rebounds for the Trailblazers.
Mercy was led by Marist-bound Maura Fitzpatrick’s 17 points and Fairfield-bound Kendra Landy, who finished with seven points, nursing an injured back. Destine Perry, who is a junior guard, had 13 for Mercy.
Despite the Tigers scoring efforts in the loss, coach Tim Kohs thought Mercy’s overall effort in the second half was lacking and at time nonexistent.
“We’re shooting and missing and somehow there’s five orange shirts down the floor, and only one white one. That tells me we threw in the towel pretty quickly,” he said. “I’m disappointed.”
The Tigers kept pace with the Trailblazers, trailing by only 12 at the half. However, the Trailblazers had an advantage in the paint and on the glass as Gillespie and Elmore each had five boards and 16 points at halftime.
“They work so well off each other,” Millsaps said. “And when the defense stops them, they stop and they dish it.”
In the second half, Mercy still kept it close, but come the fourth quarter it was all Capital Prep. The Trailblazers shots started falling, the game sped up and the Tigers could not keep up, getting outscored 29-6.
“We just put our foot on the gas,” Gillespie said. “The fourth quarter is really the time when you have to step on their neck. We stepped on their neck and they didn’t have a reaction, they didn’t punch back.”
And Gillespie, like Elmore, said this game put the “who’s No. 1?” talk to rest.
“Capital Prep (is No. 1),” she said. “No doubt.”
CAPITAL PREP 88, MERCY 48
Capital Magnet Prep 23 17 19 29 – 88
Mercy 12 16 14 6 – 48
CAPITAL PREP (88)
Lizahya Morgan 3 2-4 9, Kiah Gillespie 13 1-2 28, Angelique Rodriguez 5 3-3 14, Desiree Elmore 12 8-8 32, Marrisa Cottrell 1 0-0 2, Desiree Davis 0 1-2 1, NaJae White 1 0-0 2. Totals: 35 15-19 88
Kendra Landy 3 1-3 7, Maura Fitzpatrick 6 2-4 17, Destine Perry 5 3-4 13, Sarah Gallo 3 0-0 6, Isabelle Santoro 1 0-0 2, Jolie Erlacher 1 1-3 3. Totals: 19 7-14 48
3-point goals: Capital Magnet Prep 3 (Morgan 1, Gillespie 1, Rodriguez 1); Mercy 3 (Fitzpatrick 3); Records: Capital Magnet Prep 10-1; Mercy 10-1