by Tom Utescher
Only two undefeated teams remained in the NCAA League when action got underway last Tuesday, and those two 7-0 squads were pitted against one another for sole possession of first place. Coming back from a double-digit deficit in the first half, Team Black pulled within one point of defending champ Lime Green early in the second period, but couldn’t get over the hump. It remained close for awhile, but the Lime legion, which included Mount St. Joe grad Elle Hagedorn, pulled away late to win 76-57.
A different comeback bid met with success, as Team Orange, staffed by Philadelphia University players, got past Columbia Blue in overtime, 70-67. Team Ash Gray, which has a number of Chestnut Hill College players on the roster, went down 62-46 to Hunter Green.
At the outset of the battle of unbeatens, a three-pointer by Danielle Callahan gave Lime Green a lead it never lost, but Team Black was right behind up to a 7-6 count. A three-pointer by Notre Dame alum Devon Kane touched off a 9-0 run for the Limeys that included regular field goals by Dana Mitchell, Alicia Manning, and Liz Sharlow.
As the clock clicked down near 12 minutes, the lead was up over a dozen points, at 20-7, but then Black dug in its heels and kept the Lime ladies from disappearing over the horizon. Still, Black didn’t really cut into its deficit until the final minute of the half, when back-to-back three-pointers by Emily Leer and Hilary Weaver made it a six-point affair at the break, 34-28.
As the second round got underway, Black crept ever closer until Lime leader Ted Hagedorn called time-out with 16:44 remaining in the game, when his club clung to a 40-39 edge. After the peptalk, Meg Pearson (who scored 10 of her 15 points in the second half) bagged a “three” and scored off of a rebound, and Manning added a trey for a 48-39 count.
Once more, Black battled back, pulling within two points of the leaders (55-53) on a three-pointer by Jasmine Elum with just under five minutes to go. Mitchell, Lime’s power player in the post, divided her game-high 20 points evenly between the two periods, and kept producing down the stretch while guard Katie Kuester got hot on the outside.
Kuester kicked off Lime’s final run with a trey from the left wing and Mitchell made a successful move in the paint on the next possession. That started their club off on a decisive four-minute, 18-1 run that included treys from Hagedorn and Pearson, as well as Kuester. Kane, who had a “three” in each half and eight total points, caused possession problems for the Black team in may ways, repeatedly zipping inside to poke the ball loose from larger players who thought they’d secured a rebound.
Hagedorn finished with seven points for the winners, who also received five points apiece from Callahan and Manning. With 10 points apiece, Elum, Weaver, and Stephanie Schultz led the scoring effort for the Black bunch.
Although this tussle between the former league co-leaders was the marquee game last Tuesday, the mostly hotly contested bout was Orange’s OT victory over Columbia Blue. Columbia’s profile was lowered by the absence of Princeton-bound Council Rock South grad Alex Wheatley (6’3”), but six-footer Danielle Derr gave the team a game-high 19 points and her former Upper Dublin High teammate Taylor Bryant notched 18.
Orange actually trailed much of the way during regulation time, but after going down by 10 points in the middle of the first half, they were back within five (34-29) at the interlude. At the break, Najah Jacobs had eight points and Taylor Peltzer had seven, but GA grad Monica Schacker, a sophomore transferring to Philly U., would score 13 of her team-high 17 points in the second period.
A few minutes into the second half, Orange took its first lead, 36-35, on a lay-up by former Villa Joseph Marie Academy center Mary Newell. Columbia Blue was back up by five with six minutes to go (57-52), but Schacker scored Orange’s last 10-points in regulation (including two three-pointers) to help send the game into overtime at 62-all. She actually stole the ball in the final seconds of the second half and got off an outside shot, but the ball rattled out of the rim, and OT ensued.
Columbia edged ahead, 67-64, early in the three-minute overtime, but Orange took the lead on lay-ups by Peltzer and Jacobs. On a transition sequence, Jacobs passed the ball ahead to Kristen Blye (six points total) for a lay-up that put the final score of 70-67 on the board with 48 seconds remaining.
A series of steals and re-steals used up most of the clock, and just before the buzzer, Columbia missed the front end of a one-and-one. Orange’s Jaclyn Panichi joined Schacker in perimeter production, knocking down three triples, while Jacobs and Peltzer finished with 11 points apiece.
Earlier on the same court, Hunter Green took a 41-23 halftime lead over Ash Gray, which had gotten five points from 2011 Springside grad Brenna Coll. The Gray didn’t let themselves get completely buried in the second stanza, but they didn’t seriously challenge for the lead, either. Coll ended up as one of three players with 11 points in the losing cause, and Ash Gray also received six apiece from Chestnut Hill College’s Lila Jones and Da’Kiya Johnson.