St. Mary’s coach Tom Flynn is fielding a young starting lineup consisting of just one senior, Alyssa James, along with three sophomores and a junior.
There have been instances this season when the young Gaels get off to slow start in games, either due to inexperience or not being able to find a consistent rhythm.
St. Mary’s didn’t have those problems Saturday afternoon at the Rose Classic. McKayla Hernandez scored a team-high 13 points, and Charlotte Renker added 11 points to power the Gaels to a solid 56-40 win over New Mission (MA) at Bishop Ford in Brooklyn.
“They’re starting to come together and there’s little bright spots," Flynn said. "They’re young and they have their moments and they have their spurts and stop playing sometimes like good players do. They want to play and you get a smile on your face when you see them.”
Flynn says St. Mary’s (10-2) is making big strides at becoming a cohesive unit. The Gaels have received attention as of late for their 52-44 victory over St. Anthony’s that snapped a 36-game winning streak that spanned four years in the CHSAA Nassau/Suffolk league.
St. Mary’s had to do a lot of tinkering prior to the start of the campaign.
The transfers of sophomores Hernandez, point guard Mei-Lyn Bautista and Jordan Augustus from Mary Louis has worked out quite well. Flynn been pleased at the continual progress the former Hilltoppers have shown on the court and their developing chemistry with new teammates.
“We met off the court and they welcomed me and two of my friends. It was like a family and they believed in me,” Bautista said. “I was so welcomed and it was a big step and we got comfortable right away. We’re all on the same page.”
Bautista, a pass-first point guard, guided the offense to an early 20-3 advantage by the second quarter. The Gaels also worked hard defensively to extend that lead to 31-11 by halftime.
Flynn does not think St. Mary’s is a finished product and says the team can get even better in the near future. Renker, a 6-foot-2 post player who transferred from Mineola, can rebound and score in the post but she is continuing to work on improving her conditioning.
Jasmine Bryant is staring to make an impact as she recover from a torn ACL that wiped out her sophomore campaign. James, the only starting senior in the lineup, is providing energy and strength inside the paint.
“That win [against St. Anthony’s] came right in the middle of the season and we hadn’t been playing well in my eyes and we’re still not playing as capably as we can,” Flynn said. “We didn’t play our best game, but we beat them. “
Hernandez says the team chemistry is growing every day. The victory over St. Anthony’s made the sophomore believe that a special season can be had with more work.
“It made us realize that as long as we are on each other’s side, we can accomplish anything as far as we want to go,” Hernandez said.