One compelling dynamic separates rivalry games from other games: intensity.
Both teams played with great intensity and determination and in the end, despite a strong game by star forward Michelle Folan, the girls' basketball team fell to rival Marlborough, 62-52, on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
The Sailors were looking to repeat their success from last season when they beat Marlborough for the first time in seven years. Marymount played well early in both the first and second halves, but let the game slip away down the stretch.
The loss dropped Marymount to 11-10 overall and 3-1 in the Sunshine League, but the team is still very much in the hunt for the league title. Coach Fabrice Sene had nothing but positive things to say about where the Sailors' season is headed.
“We are 3-1, we still have four games to go," Sene said. "The season’s going to be long. We’re gonna wait for Marlborough at our place.”
While losing to a rival always hurts, there was plenty of upside for Marymount in the form of Folan. The senior notched her third double-double of the season, finishing wih 32 points and 10 rebounds.
“My shots were falling,” Folan said with a smile. “Wherever is open, I’ll go and shoot. I’ll play wherever on the court.”
Folan was responsible for 13 of the team’s 21 first-half points, 10 of its 20 third-quarter points and more than 60 percent of the Sailors’ total points on Tuesday night. She was also 14-of-17 from the free throw line. It was her best game of the season.
Sene was certainly impressed.
“She can shoot it from 15 feet, she can post-up, she’s a great rebounder; she does all of it for us,” Sene said.
Early in the game it even looked like Folan and the Sailors might be headed to a lopsided victory. Marymount came out of the gate scoring in bunches and opened the game on an 8-1 run. Marlborough responded, though, and the Sailors' lead had dissipated to 11-10 by the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the host Mustangs took over. They outscored Marymount 19-10 and went into halftime leading 30-21.
The Sailors made their move in the second half, once again asserting themselves early. They used their size advantage in the post to turn the game around and by the end of the third quarter the score was knotted at 41-41.
It all came down to the final eight minutes and unfortunately for the Sailors, it was all Marlborough in the fourth.
The Mustangs (10-6, 3-0) were able to use full-court pressure to force Marymount into costly turnovers and closed the game out on back-to-back steals late in the fourth quarter.
The Sailors will get another chance at Marlborough in their season finale on Feb. 10 at Marymount Pavilion. They will look to get back on track before that, though, as they travel to Louisville of Woodland Hills on Jan. 29.
The win moved Marlborough into sole possession of first place in league, but the Sailors know there is still plenty of basketball to be played.
“I was really pumped to beat Marlborough,” Folan said, “but I guess we’ll try to get ‘em next time.”