By Steve Millar
Mother McAuley senior Grace Hynes took the court for Monday’s battle with rival Marist looking like a boxer that had just been in a fight.
Hynes was sporting three stitches under her right eye as the result of taking an elbow in the Mighty Macs’ loss to Montini on Jan. 10.
She had absolutely no second thoughts, though, about attacking the basket just as tenaciously as she normally does, even if that meant taking another hit.
“I’d prefer not to get hit in the face, but if it happens, it happens,” Hynes said, with a laugh. “You can’t really control that. I made it through this game, though, so that’s a positive.”
Hynes did a lot more than just make it through the night unharmed. In a game where just about everyone else on the court struggled offensively, Hynes was on fire. She scored 21 points to lead the host Mighty Macs to a 49-39 win.
Hynes also pulled down six rebounds, while Jenna Badali scored 12 points for McAuley (19-2).
Marist lost for the fifth time in its past seven games, a grueling stretch that has included defeats to Montini (21-3), Whitney Young (15-4), Benet (18-4) and Nazareth (19-1).
Sydney Affolter led the RedHawks (14-7) with 16 points and six rebounds.
Hynes scored nearly half of the Mighty Macs’ first-half points – eight of 18 – as they led 18-11 at half.
“It was one of those nights where my shots were going in, but the next night it could be Jenna (Badali) or Hannah (Swiatek) or someone else,” she said. “It makes it so tough for teams to defend us because we have so many girls that can step up and score on any night.”
No one on either team was scoring early. The first eight shots of the game were misses before Badali and Swiatek hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 6-0.
The Mighty Macs led the rest of the way.
Swiatek banked in her three.
“That picked up all our momentum,” she said. “I didn’t expect it go in, but it banked in off the glass. It made us go 10 times harder, and then getting a stop on the defensive end, it picked us all up.”
McAuley started the second quarter with a 10-2 surge to go up 18-7 and Marist never fully recovered as the Mighty Macs were bolstered by a raucous home crowd.
“Every single year we play Marist it’s just an awesome atmosphere, and I love playing in it,” Swiatek said. “I’m sad that it’s ending since this is my senior year.”
While the Macs thrived off the crowd’s energy, Hynes made sure they didn’t get too excited.
“In this type of environment, you can’t help but sometimes get a little bit riled up,” Hynes said. “Our fan section again was amazing. We had so many people come to support us.
“Sometimes with the crowd roaring, you get a little sped up, so I was just trying to get us to keep our cool. I think we did a nice job executing and it was a fun night.”
Lauren Ramsey finished with seven points and seven rebounds for the Mighty Macs, while Swaitek had six points and six rebounds.
Marist picked up its offense in the second half, but was doomed by the slow start, never getting closer than five points over the final two quarters.
Jenna Ryan scored 11 points for the RedHawks, Mary Clare Brusek added six points and five rebounds, and Abby Callahan had 11 rebounds.
Affolter scored 11 of her points in the final quarter.
“We just really struggled at the start of the game,” Affolter said. “I definitely did.
“It’s hard to beat a team twice. We’ll meet McAuley again in sectionals and we’ll get our second shot.”