With just a little over two minutes left in their Class LL quarterfinal game against Mercy, Ludlowe girls' basketball coach Sarah Huntington crouched down in front of her players on the bench, looked at her five seniors -- Trish Auray, Charlotte Blatt, Caroline Yates, Caroline Pangallo and Meghan Curran -- staring back at her and said, "This is your time."

Mercy had been in command since the start and was about to advance into the Class LL semifinals for the sixth straight season. The Falcons, who had never advanced into the state quarterfinals before in program history, was about to see its season end. But Huntington wanted her seniors to go out with their heads high, so she sent them onto the floor together to end the game.

"That was really important to me," Huntington said. "These kids have given me so much over the years, and I wanted the younger kids to see that. I put these seniors on a pedestal for a reason. They've worked so hard for so long, they've transformed this program."

Ludlowe lost to Mercy 56-22 to end the season with a 13-11 record. But the Falcons battled until the bitter end, which was exactly what they did all season. They survived injuries. They survived illnesses. And they advanced deeper into the state tournament than any Ludlowe team ever had.

"This is the farthest we've ever gotten as a program," Huntington said. "With the ups and downs we've have this season, injuries, flu, accidents, to withstand all the adversity is a testament to the girls."

On this night, Mercy was simply too big, too strong, too athletic for Ludlowe to handle. From a 5-4 game midway through the first quarter, the Tigers scored the last 14 points of the first quarter, led by 15 after one, 20 at halftime and by 29 heading into the fourth quarter.

"Mercy's a great team. They've got so many threats, so many weapons across the board," Huntington said. "They played great. But I'm really proud of our defense and our hustle. Those are things that a testament to this team and the seniors. They don't give up, not matter what the score is and I'm so proud to coach them."

Ludlowe never got anything going against Mercy's defense, which allowed the Falcons just four first half baskets and 11 points. Every shot was contested or blocked and that was if they got a shot off at all. Ludlowe was guilty of numerous turnovers, which allowed the Tigers to get into transition early and often.

"Our offense ... it's hard to compete against Mercy when your offense isn't falling," Huntington said. "They're just a fantastic team."

Leading 31-11 at halftime, Mercy raced out of the gates to open the third quarter scoring the first eight points to push the margin out toward 30. From there, the Tigers put it on cruise control, holding the Falcons to their lowest point total of the season.

Caroline Pangallo led Ludlowe with eight points.

"There's only so much you can do against talent like that. That's why I loved our fight and determination. We battled to the bitter end," Huntington said. "I think Mercy came out and had a lot to prove. They have great talent. We're not quite as athletic as they are but we gave total effort."

Mercy will take on another FCIAC team, Wilton, in Monday's semifinals at Law High School in Milford.