NEWFIELD - Holy Spirit High School senior guard Joanna Persiano scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Spartans, No. 4 in The Press' Elite 11, to a 59-30 victory over Cape-Atlantic League National Conference opponent Our Lady of Mercy Academy on Monday night.
She had 12 of Holy Spirit's 15 first-quarter points, and a team-high six rebounds overall.
"I'm going to keep setting the level (of my play) high and try not to come out flat," Persiano said.
She did just that. In a high-tempo game with a combined 41 fouls, Persiano and her teammates stayed patient and continued to play their game. The only time they struggled was in the second quarter, when the Villagers went on a 6-0 run. Holy Spirit junior Tenisha Mobley ended the rally when she hit a layup with 4 minutes, 33 seconds to go in the quarter.
OLMA, on the other hand, was hurt by turnovers. Every time it looked as if the Villagers were going to get back in the game, the Spartans' pressure got to them.
Taylor Thompson led the Villagers with 11 points, with nine coming from the free-throw line. Ali Dandrea followed with seven points.
"They can shoot the ball, and they're well coached, so we prepared a great deal for this game," Holy Spirit coach Larry DiGiovanni said of the Villagers. "By nature, we are an aggressive team. It's part of our forte and the way we play."
The Spartans focused on two things. One is a pressure defense that DiGiovanni kept on for the majority of the game. The other is sharing the ball on offense, which point guard Sarah Marakos does best. The junior had five assists on top of her seven points. Mobley, who also can lead the offense, added 14 points for the Spartans plus five steals. Holy Spirit outshot OLMA 59-30.
Holy Spirit will use this momentum to go into another tough CAL National Conference matchup Wednesday. when it plays Sacred Heart (3-0).
"You always want to improve and get better because (the season) doesn't get any easier," DiGiovanni said. "Now we have to prepare tomorrow for another tough game on Wednesday. Sacred Heart is always a good game."
Holy Spirit will face OLMA at home Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.
Contact Kelly Ashe:
Holy Spirit 15 11 16 17 - 59
OLMA 7 8 4 11 - 30
H-Persiano 8 3-6 22, Mobley 5 4-4 14, Bell 1 3-4 5, Marakos 2 3-5 7, Carlucci 1 1-2 3, Reimers 1 0-1 2, Mazur 1 0-0 2, Lewis 0 2-2 2, Sacco 1 0-0 2. Totals-20 16-23 59.
O-A. Dandrea 3 1-2 7, B. Dandrea 0 2-2 2, Ridgeway 0 1-3 1, Thompson 1 9-10 11, Hartman 1 0-1 2, Ernst 2 1-2 5, Catalana 1 0-1 2. Totals-8 14-20 30.
3-pointers-Persiano (3) H.
Records-Holy Spirit 3-1, OLMA 3-1.