Hot-shooting Bauer helps Mercy rally to beat No. 10-ranked Hartland WITH PHOTO GALLERY

Matthew Mowery

FARMINGTON HILLS >> Jackie Bauer’s sisters brought a handwritten sign to a Farmington Hills Mercy home game in the last few weeks, with the message “Our sister is better than we were.”

Hartland would certainly not disagree with that sentiment.

Bauer exploded for 11 points in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Class A regional semifinal at North Farmington High, as the Marlins rallied from eight points down to beat the No. 10-ranked Eagles, 47-42.

“When you’re a senior, you never know when it’s your last game, so you’ve gotta come out really hard, give it your all, no matter the outcome,” said Bauer, who finished with 20 points, three quarters of those on 3-pointers.

“Once you make one, you keep getting confidence, building confidence. Then when they start coming out on you, that’s when you pass it to teammates, and keep scoring. … I knew they were going to come out on me, but when they started doing their 1-3-1 (zone), it really built space for open shots. My teammates were really the ones that helped build open spaces, got me the ball, penetrated and kicked.”

The Marlins (21-3) advance to Thursday’s regional final, where they’ll take on Walled Lake Western (20-4), a 48-42 winner over Novi in Tuesday’s other regional semifinal.

“Just really proud as heck of this team. This team has a lot of heart. They just battle. They don’t care who they’re playing — I know we were probably considered the underdog. That’s fine by us,” Mercy coach Gary Morris said. “We’re happy to live another day.”

It looked for much of the second half like the Eagles (22-2) might be the ones moving on, as the KLAA Association champions built an eight-point lead on the Catholic League champs in the third quarter.

“At the half, we felt pretty good, down one. But then they came out, it seemed like every possession in that third quarter — or close to it — they scored. So they made an adjustment against our defense, then we had to make an adjustment there. Helped a little bit when No. 15 (Whitney Sollom) got her third (foul) there, because she was becoming a presence inside against us,” Morris said. “Just mental toughness. We were teetering a little bit there. I know it (the lead) got as high as eight — I don’t know if it got to nine, but then we just locked into a defense, and it was really effective. It kind of caused them some problems.”

And the Eagles have had issues like that in the past, where they speed up, and get ahead of themselves.

“We’ve had spells like this, where we just can’t stop. We had two Grand Blanc games we won, but could’ve lost — same thing. We didn’t hit shots, so the result was was maybe to shoot quicker,” Hartland coach Don Palmer said.

“When we got behind, we didn’t handle it well. We just got real scatter-brained. I know it didn’t look like it, but we worked real hard on that half court trap for two days, but we just didn’t execute it very well at all.”

Mercy quickly erased Hartland’s lead with three consecutive 3-pointers — two from Bauer, and one from Jess Mruzik — took the lead with a Bauer 3 with 4:50 to go, then stretched it to five points, 38-33, with another 3-pointer.

“We’re a pretty good 3-point shooting team, but we took it to another degree. … Obviously, when you hit shots, that helps at any level,” Morris said. “She (Bauer) got us started — she hit the first 3 — and then she got as hot as heck in the fourth.”

The Marlins also hit 7 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win, once they got the lead. Chloe Godbold had 10 points to go with Bauer’s 20.

“When that 3-ball goes, and it goes that many times, that quickly, it’s devastating. … I know the Bauer kid is a good shooter, but we felt like we really had to emphasize No. 4 (Godbold), and 3, we just left her open, and she hit them. One of the timeouts, the kids wanted to stay in the zone. I wish I could do it over again, but you want to do what they’re comfortable with.” Palmer said.

“Right now, everybody’s hurting, but in a couple days, they’ll take a look, and 22 wins, four championships. A lot of kids play a lot of sports, and never get one. If you gotta go out, let’s go out to somebody good. Let’s not go out on an upset. I thought we had a great chance tonight, we just didn’t get it done.”

Lexey Tobel had 10 points to lead Hartland, before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Last Updated: 3/8/2017 12:16:26 AM EST