by Tom Utescher
Although some of Mount St. Joseph Academy’s most experienced players were away enjoying the tail end of their summer vacation, a young Magic line-up was still able to defend the team’s title in the Lou Cappiella Summer Basketball League.
Last week Mount St. Joe finished as undefeated champion of the league for the second year in a row, topping Radnor High School in Wednesday’s semifinals, 40-33, and then routing Catholic Academies colleague Nazareth in the championship game the following evening, 55-22. The only senior on hand for the two tilts, forward Meg Geatens, rolled up a total of 45 points for the Magic.
After charging through the regular season with an 8-0 record, the Mount flattened eighth-seeded Little Flower in the quarterfinal round, moving on into the semifinal clash with Radnor’s Red Raiders.
Geatens opened up with eight points against Radnor to spark a 10-0 run by the Mount right out of the gate. However, the Red Raiders quickly showed they were going to make a game of it, scoring the next nine points to almost erase Mount St. Joe’s early lead.
Geatens and sophomore Katie Maranski led the Magic back out to a 17-9 advantage, but soon Radnor was back within three at 17-14. The Mount’s lead began building again with transition lay-ups by Geatens and incoming freshman Sarah Wills, and three-point field goals by freshman Caitlin Cunningham and sophomore Mary Kate Ulasewicz helped the Magic continue on to a 28-16 halftime lead.
The Red Raiders defended Geatens much more effectively in the second half, having one player shadow her as soon as she got across halfcourt and then triple-teaming her in the paint. Only three of her game-high 19 points came after the interlude. Radnor trimmed its deficit to six points on three occasions, the final time at 39-33 with 44 seconds remaining in the game.
Trying to prevent the Magic from holding the ball and running the clock down, the Red Raiders committed three quick team fouls to reach a total of six. On the next inbounds play for Mount St. Joe, Radnor was able to come up with a steal instead of needing to foul, but Ulasewicz stole the ball back and got it to Geatens, who had gone six-for-seven at the free throw line up to that point.
She made the first of two shots on the one-and-one, but by this time there were only 14 seconds left to play, and Radnor was unable to score again. MSJ’s Cunningham came away with nine points and Maranski had five, with three more coming from Ulasewicz and two apiece from Wills and junior Colleen Steinmetz.
Aside from the scoring, there were some nice touches like shot blocks by Maranski and timely rebounds from Steinmetz.
In the second semifinal, St. Hubert’s took Nazareth into overtime before the Pandas finally prevailed, beating the Bambies, 34-32.
After the Mount’s hard-fought semifinal, the championship game the following night turned into an anticlimactic affair pretty quickly. Nazareth’s only lead came at 3-2, and after Geatens registered the Mount’s first eight points, a Cunningham lay-up made it 10-3 about seven minutes into the action.
A little later the Pandas were still not completely out of it, trailing 14-8, but then they were outpointed, 21-2, in the remainder of the first half. Geatens already had 18 points in the books as part of Mount St. Joe’s 35-10 bulge at the break.
The senior scored the first half-dozen points of the second period, as well, and a Ulasewicz lay-up made it 43-10. Nazareth tacked on a dozen points the rest of the way, but the Magic really didn’t have to do anything but coast to the buzzer.
The victors got double-digit scoring from Geatens (26 points) and Cunningham (10), with Ulasewicz scoring seven points and Steinmetz and Wills adding six apiece. Rising sophomore Marissa Sylvester notched eight points for the Pandas.