**Note: This article originally published in The Reporter and on PaPrepLive.com**
LOWER MERION >> The Gwynedd Mercy Academy girls basketball team has some business to take care of in the PIAA playoffs.
Behind a suffocating press, the Monarchs started the game on an 18-0 run and cruised to a 58-31 victory over Bonner-Prendergast in the Class AAA first round Saturday afternoon at Harriton.
“In any game if you can jump out on somebody like that it puts a lot of pressure on them to come back,” Gwynedd Mercy head coach Tom Lonergan said. “It’s difficult for a team to (come back) against us because of our ability to keep coming at you with our pressure.”
The game was over in the first quarter for all intents and purposes, as GMA forced Bonner into seven turnovers in the opening eight minutes. Bonner also shot just 15 percent as a team (2-for-13).
Gwynedd Mercy, which is led by four seniors, was left with a bitter taste in their mouths last season after a first-round loss to Bonner in the state playoffs. GMA came more than prepared for the Pandas this time around.
“It was like all revenge really,” Monarchs senior Brigit Coleman said. “Also we wanted to make it further than last year, but we were bitter that we lost to them last year.”
The score was 23-5 in favor of the Monarchs after the first quarter. Gwynedd Mercy also led 38-10 at the half.
“We certainly want to create offense in all different ways,” Lonergan said. “I was pleased when our offense had to settle down. I thought we executed in our offensive sets just as well.
“All I know is 38 points put up on the board. I think to put that up against anybody is pretty impressive.”
Gwynedd Mercy was balanced on offense in the game, but Coleman led all scorers with 18 points. Maggie Cameron added 10 points, while Erica DeCandido scored nine. Both girls are seniors as well.
“The four seniors, all of us, all we want to do is go farther because we love this team so much and we don’t want it to end,” Coleman said. “We want to push it as far as it can go.”
Mary Claire Casey, the fourth Monarch senior, came off the bench and provided a lot of energy for GMA on both ends of the floor.
The win almost felt like the opening scenes of a play for Gwynedd Mercy; a performance the Monarchs hope can make it to the fifth act.
“We always have lofty expectations. I don’t believe in any season, any tournament, ever going in a settling. Our goal is five games, one at a time.”