by Tom Utescher
Missing three of their returning varsity players, Mount St. Joseph Academy’s summer basketballers had their hands full last Monday night in a Lou Cappiella League contest. The Magic held a four-point edge over Pope John Paul II High School, but fell behind the Golden Panthers in the second half before rallying to secure a 32-28 victory.
The Mount raised its record to 5-1 in the league, with the lone loss coming on a night in late June when the Magic used only JV players in a game against the varsity club from Norristown High School.
At the outset of last Monday’s bout, two successful drives by the Panthers were countered by a 17-foot jumper by MSJ junior Adrienne Cellucci and a transition lay-up by senior Maddie Kohler. Senior guard Bridget Higgins broke this 4-4 stalemate, starting slowly by hitting the first of a pair of free throws, then driving for a field goal and coming right back to score off of a steal.
Another foul shot and a mid-range jumper by the senior followed, and when sophomore Regan Gallagher converted off of an offensive rebound, the Magic owned a 10-point lead (14-4) with more than half of the opening period in the books.
Mount St. Joe would only add five more points to its total before halftime, though, while John Paul II closed up the score to 19-15. The Panthers hit a few jumpers but did most of their damage by penetrating through the defense to deposit lay-ups.
As the second half dawned they kept the Mount guessing by starting off with a three-pointer, then tallied twice from the paint to move ahead, 22-19. A three-pointer from the left side by Kohler got the Magic going in the trailing half, tying the score in the process. The Panthers led one last time at 24-22, then a lay-up and two free throws by Higgins and a baseline jumper by sophomore Julia Shinkle moved the Mount ahead for good.
Gallagher joined in on the scoring but when the Magic called time-out with 50 seconds remaining, they were still only ahead by three points, 31-28. The Mounties missed the front end of a one-and-one and then left a Panther shooter open for a three-point attempt with seven seconds to go, but the shot missed.
Higgins scored the final point of the evening from the foul mine with three ticks on the clock, and finished with a team-high 14 points. Gallagher came away with six points, and Kohler and Cellucci had five apiece.