By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The Mount St. Mary girls basketball team has dribbled out to a quick 3-1 start this season behind first-year coach Marissa Clark, and the Thunder have done so behind Clark’s high-pressure system.
Clark has the personel and chemistry within her team to utilize a frantic and sustained defensive effort. That pressure has been hard for opposing teams to handle early on this season.
”I’m big on help defense and I like a lot of ball pressure,” she said. “If your girl beats you you have help. (We want to put) a lot of ball pressure and make other teams make a move to hopefully cause them to make a mistake.”
The Thunder have three seniors in their starting lineup and Clark said the group’s leadership has been very important, especially with a new coach in place.
”They are all so good at talking to each other and helping each other through everything,” she said. “If one person makes a mistake they’re all there to say that it’s OK, and I really respect that about these girls. You can tell they want to be here and they want to win.”
Marly Wyzykowski (5-foot-10) and Shannon Pelitera (5-foot-9) make up Mount St. Mary’s frontcourt and both excel on the defensive end of the floor, according to Clark. The Thunder tries to get the ball inside to their bigs to try and get easy buckets and open up the outside game.
That’s where senior point guard Emma Sullivan comes into play. Clark said she has a great outside shot and really helps everybody get into the right spots so the Thunder can run their plays. Samantha Barry and Annie McGorry round out the starting lineup, and Clark said the two complement each other very well — Barry likes to drive to the basket and McGorry is a strong outside shooter and a great passer.
Elise Kreuz and Catherine Meegan are big contributors off the bench for the Thunder, Clark said, but she likes to get everybody involved that shows they deserve some playing time.
The team’s overall work ethic is a big reason its been so successful, according to Clark.
“They don’t give up,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of close games so far and they don’t loose their heads and they don’t get overzealous. They keep their calm and their composure, and they just keep pushing along.”
Clark, originally from Rochester and a former Medaille College graduate assistant coach, is excited at the new opportunity to coach at Mount St. Mary. It’s been an easy transition because of her players.
“The girls are respectful and they’ve brought me in with open arms,” she said. “I can’t complain at all.”Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.