Friday, February 02, 2001

Purcell Marian has learned to win




By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Saundra Hale
(Mike Simons photo)
| ZOOM |
        The road to success for the Purcell Marian girls basketball team has been long and hard. Also-rans of the Girls Greater Cincinnati League for 20-plus seasons, the Cavaliers have surfaced as a contender this season behind coach Mike Peddicord.

        The Cavaliers havewon a single-season school best 15 games. Thursday's 34-25 loss to Hamilton Badin was just the third for the Cavaliers and dropped them out of a first-place tie in the GGCL Gray Division.

        “When I took over seven years ago, we didn't have much talent,” Peddicord said. “I came to realize that the key was going to the feeder schools to get the girls involved at an early age.”

        The process was frustrating for several seasons.

        But when the freshmen threesome of Keri Finnell, Saundra Hale and Patti White arrived last season, the program started to turn the corner.

        “Everyone accepted losing until we got there,” said Finnell, now a sophomore guard. “We didn't buy into losing and during practices, we pushed everyone to work harder.”

        The Cavaliers went on to record a single-season best 12-9 record last season.

        Still, with the quality of play in the GGCL, Purcell was picked to finish fourth in the league behind Badin, McNicholas and Roger Bacon.

        “I can understand that because we start three sophomores and two juniors,” Peddicord said.

        Peddicord said opening the season with victories over Norwood, Seven Hills and Ursuline built a lot of confidence.”

        Joining Finnell, Hale and White in the starting lineup are Melisha Reese (nine ppg) and Andrea White (six ppg). Peddicord usually plays nine players.

        Most of the players are members of summer AAU teams, which adds valuable experience.

        “Everyone likes the run-and-gun offense,” Peddicord said. “They'd rather be on offense, and it's hard to sell defense, and that's the area we need to improve.”

        Finnell agreed the Cavaliers must find ways to stop opponents.

        “Defense wins games and we're working hard to get better,” Finnell said. “Coach is letting us run more this season, but defense is something we work on everyday during practice.”

        Patti White, a 6-foot-2 center, is Purcell Marian's inside threat, averaging 10 points a game and 10 rebounds.

        Finnell, Reese and Hall are all about 5-7 and quick. They shoot well from the perimeter and also are capable of taking it to the basket. Andrea White (no relation to Patti) is the only forward and second in rebounding.

        The Cavaliers' only other losses are to McNicholas and Mariemont.

        “Losing to Mariemont (fourth game of season) was an eye-opener,” Finnell said. “We had just beaten Ursuline, and we came into the game thinking we were going to win. Today, we take no one lightly.”

        Purcell Marian is the No.1 seed in the Division II sectional tournament.

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