MIDDLETOWN — The first quarter was the ballgame.
Defending Class LL champion Mercy shut out Amity in the first quarter while scoring 15 points and cruised to a 59-38 Southern Connecticut Conference intra-divisional game at Mercy High Friday night.
“The first quarter was everything,” said Amity coach Michelle Martinik. “We can’t fall that far behind a good team like Mercy. We fell behind Hillhouse too, so that’s something we have to work on.”
Mercy jumped all over the Spartans in the first quarter with six different players scoring the 15 points. When Maura Fitzpatrick scored to open the second, the Tigers led 17-0. Amity finally got on the board with 7:08 to play in the half on a hoop by Mikaela Schmitt.
Amity woke up after that and outscored Mercy 20-14 to get within hailing distance down 29-20 at the half.
“The first quarter was the difference, but I’ll tell you, if we didn’t have that quarter we might not have won the game,” said Mercy coach Tim Kohs. “We came out aggressively and played well early. In fact, we could have had some more points.”
But Fitzpatrick, clearly Mercy’s star, got in foul trouble early in the second quarter and when she sat down, Amity (1-1) took advantage.
“Fitzpatrick’s going to have to learn to play with fouls,” said Kohs. “If she’s sitting down like she did tonight, we’re not going to be able to hold leads against teams as good or better than us.
“She plays great defense, she rebounds and her energy is limitless. She’s our security blanket. When she’s in there, we’re better at both ends of the court.”
Mercy pulled away in the third quarter, opening up a 33-21 lead when Fitzpatrick picked up her fourth foul. But the Tigers played Amity even for the rest of the quarter and led 45-31 going to the fourth.
Amity was also hurt by foul trouble as their star guard, Chloe Brinton, had four fouls early in the second half and sat for long stretches, as did Fitzpatrick.
“Chloe is a four-year starter,” said Martinik. “When she was out of the game, it took something out of us. But I thought that even though we were down 17-0, we kept coming at them. We have a saying that says ‘Amity doesn’t quit’ and we didn’t. But it’s tough to fall far behind a good team like Mercy.”
FItzpatrick led all scorers with 19 points and Kendra Landy had 14.
“I thought Kendra had a great game,” said Kohs. “She’s a one-person press breaker. When she and Maura play well, we’re a really good team. But we need to work on free throws.”
Mercy (2-0) was 20-for-35 from the line for 57 percent.
Brinton led Amity with 13 points and Elyse Graham had 10.