FARMINGTON HILLS, MICH. -- At the beginning of the basketball season, it would not have been a shock to pick the Farmington Hills Mercy girls basketball team to have a solid season. After all, that's at least what Mercy does.
Yet, no one was picking Mercy to be a difference maker at the statewide level. Without any superstars to speak of, Mercy was expected to quietly have a strong season.
In hindsight, Mercy was not given enough credit. At 19-3 and having captured the Catholic League Central Division and Catholic League A-B tournament titles, Mercy looks poised to take on anyone. Moreover, Mercy looks poised to beat anyone and is the final MLive Detroit Team of the Week for the winter season.
"I feel like we are above expectations," Mercy senior guard Chloe Godbold said. "I think people predicted us to be underdogs this year. We came out and we beat (Bloomfield Hills) Marian three times and we showed other teams basically that we're not here to play (around). Don't play with us, we're serious."
Seriously, Mercy is no underdog.
Marian was considered a favorite to win the Catholic League this year with so many pieces back from last year's Catholic League championship team. Yet, Mercy swept the season series. Two of Mercy's losses are to state-ranked Class A powers in Port Huron Northern (No. 7 Associated Press) and Detroit Martin Luther King (No. 1 AP) by a combined seven points. In fact, Mercy took King to overtime before falling.
Mercy's only outlier was a 15-point loss to Dearborn Divine Child in December. Mercy returned the favor with a 15-point win in January as part of a 13-game win streak.
"A game that helped us was early when we played Port Huron Northern down at Calihan (Hall in Detroit) in our second game of the season," Mercy coach Gary Morris said. "They were a team that went to the quarterfinals last year and had everybody back except for one player. They were highly ranked and we played right with them ... Right after that game we played at Marian and won. I think those two games back-to-back gave us a lot of confidence."
The confidence carried forward and, despite not having a player dominate the state scoreboard, Mercy continued to pick off opponents one by one, registering its share of close games and blowouts along the way.
"I think from the beginning we've been determined, especially to beat Marian," senior Katie Coe said. "Those are our rivals so we always want to beat them. On top of that, we want to win districts and see how far we can go. I think we all want to make a really long run in the state tournament. No one wants the season to end. We want to keep it going."
Describing his team as a blue-collar group, Morris' girls have not cared whether or not they've gotten the spotlight as a team or as individuals. Through 19 games, Mercy is led in scoring by Godbold at just 10.3 points per game while senior Jackie Bauer is not far behind at 9.1 points per game. Three other players average just about 6 points or more.
Although the numbers are not mind-blowing, its the end result that matters to Mercy.
"I think it's interesting how all five of our starters, we can all bring something different to the court," Bauer said. "I think we all have the ability to score off of the bounce, off of the catch and we're all playing as a team. None of us are selfish, we just want what's best for the team. Nobody cares how many points we have, we just want to win."
As Mercy prepares to face North Farmington tonight in the Class A district championship, Mercy will continue to rely on team ball to get the job done.
"I'm sure if we were to look through our score book, we'd have a lot of different people who would have led us in scoring throughout the season," Morris said. "Hopefully that makes us hard to guard. It's been an easy team to coach in a lot of ways because they like to have fun and they know when it's time to get focused at practice and to get at it."