by Tom Utescher
The old Catholic War Veterans holiday tourney turned into the George W. Snear Tournament in 2010, but one thing that hasn’t changed over the last few years is that longtime defending champ Mount St. Joseph Academy dashed to the title without much difficulty.
Pope John Paul II High School might have given the Magic a run if two of its three best players hadn’t been sidelined with injuries, but in last Friday’s championship game the depleted Golden Panthers were no match for the Mounties, who won 66-28. A night earlier, a 26-8 second quarter got Mount St. Joe rolling towards a 69-40 semifinal win over Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
MSJ sophomore guard Alex Louin put up 21 points against the Colonials and 10 against Pope John Paul II, earning the Most Valuable Player Award. John Paul II had reached the finals by erasing a 13-1 deficit to edge semifinal foe Norristown High School, 59-53. The consolation game that preceded the finals on Saturday turned out to be another close contest, with Norristown topping Plymouth Whitemarsh, 56-53.
Reflecting on the Mount’s 9-0 record, senior guard Bridget Higgins noted, “It’s nice to go into the new year undefeated. We have a couple days off now, but when we come back we have a lot of league games coming up, so we have to continue playing well.”
On the first night of the Snear tourney in Conshohocken, the Mount encountered a P-W squad with good size and a 4-1 record up to that point. The Colonials’ line-up featured former Penn Charter player Erin Martin and fellow senior Gabriella Schumacher, the sister of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy sophomore guard Julia Schumacher.
Aware of the elder sister’s shooting skills, the Magic was able to limit her to four points in the contest, while Martin scored two points before leaving the game with her fifth personal foul early in the fourth quarter. Sturdy center Egypt Thompson had a team-high 13 points for the Colonials, who received nine points from Maya Thomas and eight from Simone Jacques.
Although MSJ’s Louin hit the first two baskets of the evening and added a pair of free throws later in the opening frame, P-W was only down 11-8 at the end of the quarter. In the second period, the Colonials broke down against the pressing Magic, and Mountie traps forced frequent turnovers.
Higgins, who starts for Mount St. Joe along with two fellow seniors and a pair of sophomores, pointed out, “The young girls are playing well, and our defense has been the best part about us. When we can play tough defense, we always give ourselves a chance to win.”
A baseline jumper and a lay-up by tenth-grader Carly Monzo touched off a 13-0 run for the Magic at the start of the second quarter. By halftime the count was 37-16, and the Mount’s margin stayed well up in double digits the rest of the way. Even when the Magic began sitting down its starters the situation didn’t improve for P-W, as MSJ sophomore Regan Gallagher came off the bench to score all of her nine points in the last six-and-a-half minutes.
Louin had five assists and four steals along with her 21 points, while Higgins had 11 points and senior classmates Cailin Schneer and Maddie Kohler scored 10 and five points, respectively. Monzo and juniors Meg Geatens and Kelsey Jones finished with four points apiece and sophomore Gen Hagedorn added a free throw.
The Mount’s opponent in the finals, John Paul II (6-5), had suffered injuries to two regular starters, Taylor Bearden and Ellen Chernasky, with Chernasky going down the previous evening in the Golden Panthers’ semifinal game against Norristown. Earlier in the month, the two had combined for 34 points in a 48-43 loss to the Mount’s league rival, Nazareth Academy.
The Magic would receive 10 points apiece from Louin (four assists, four steals, three rebounds), Higgins (five assists, three steals), and Kohler (three steals), with Kohler notching the first five points of the game with a three-pointer and a fast-break lay-up. Schmeer (who would score a team-high 13 points) stuck on a pair of free throws to make it 7-0.
Down 22-10 at the quarter, John Paul II handled the Magic’s defensive pressure better at the start of the second round, while trimming the lead to seven points, 22-15. Two minutes in, the Magic called time-out, then went to the basket aggressively when they returned to action. In the following three minutes, a 10-3 burst for the Mount included eight-for-nine shooting from the foul line. The score was 40-22 at the half.
The Golden Panthers’ offense faded away after the intermission, producing five points in the third period and only one in the fourth, while Mount St. Joe added 13 points in each quarter.
The Magic’s double-digit scorers were backed up by Jones, with eight points, Geatens, with six, and Gallagher and Hagedorn, with four each.