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AOW: No pressure means big play for Merancio

January 23, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

For the first time in six years there is no pressure on Lily Merancio to perform on the basketball court. And that's just fine by her.

While playing at Southwest High School in El Centro, Merancio was the go-to player who led the Eagles to respectability. The pressure was on the 19-year-old to carry the load for the Imperial Valley College women's team last year, too.

But this year it's different.

Merancio has more weapons surrounding her, forcing opposing defenses to change their game plans.

With the additions of scoring threats Jello Moore and Sandra Ramos on the inside and the outside sharp shooting of Jessica Prock, Merancio can contribute more on the offensive and defensive glass.

Merancio is averaging six points and five rebounds per game. She came up big Friday in IVC's 70-53 Pacific Coast Conference win over Grossmont, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was arguably her best performance of the year.


Merancio had a 14-point, 12-rebound game against Mount San Jacinto earlier in the year, but Friday's win was more crucial as the Arabs had come off a heart-breaking 78-66 loss to San Diego Mesa College on Wednesday.

It was a win IVC needed and Merancio stepped up when it was needed most.

"We weren't mentally prepared for Mesa and I think the loss made us realize that we needed to work harder," said Merancio. "So we went into that game (against Grossmont) wanting to prove to everyone that we could play."

Before the season started Merancio contemplated not playing for the Arabs. After a few of her plans fell through, Merancio was back on the court for IVC.

For the first time Merancio had to fight for playing time with IVC, something she said has made her a better player.

"I was really happy when they brought in Jello and Sandra because they've really helped me a lot. Now I know I have to practice harder and play better.

"Right now, I don't care if I'm on the bench during the game. I'm OK with that. If sitting on the bench is going to help my team then that's what I'll do," said Merancio.

Her team-first, no-pressure attitude is exactly what coach Jill Tucker said has helped turn things around for Merancio.

Said Tucker: "Her attitude has changed a lot and I think that's because there's no pressure on her to make big plays. Lily has always worked hard and her dedication this year has contributed to many of our wins."

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