by Tom Utescher
Closing out the month of June in the NCAA women’s summer basketball league with a victory last Thursday night, Team Gold remained tied for third place in the standings, improving to 3-1. The Gold squad, with three players and its coach having ties to Mount St. Joseph Academy, won 68-43 over Heather Gray, a squad with a large complement of Division III players that is bolstered by a couple of Division I ladies from Lehigh University.
Both Team Gold and Team Sky Blue (whose members mostly come from Division II West Chester University) finished the month with identical records, but if they go on to end the regular season with matching win/loss figures, Gold would receive a higher playoff seed thanks to its head-to-head win over Sky Blue last Tuesday.
Essentially a blend of Division I and Division III players, Gold’s 54-53 squeaker over the West Chester women was a noteworthy achievement, since the absence of Gold’s two 6’2” players left them somewhat vertically challenged.
On the same night, the two 2013 Germantown Academy graduates in the league squared off against one another. Here, the Purple team featuring forward Kiernan McCloskey (Lehigh) prevailed 55-44 against guard Fran Sweeney (Emory University) and her Royal Blue squad. Two nights later, Purple had a bye, while Royal bounced back by beating Navy Blue, 63-55.
On regular game nights at the Kelly Bolish Gymnasium in Hatboro, the 13-team league has three bouts scheduled for 7:00 PM and three more tipping off at 8:15, so on each night one team receives a bye.
Last Thursday, the three-ball queens of Team Hunter Green remained atop the standings as they ran their record to 4-0. This latest win didn’t come easily, but the league leaders pulled out the “W”, 68-64, over Kelly Green. Half-a-dozen players in Kelly Green’s line-up come from Division II powerhouse Holy Family University in Northeast Philadelphia, and the line-up also includes Indiana University (of Pa.) sophomore Erin Martin, who played high school ball first at Penn Charter and then at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
Team White also stayed unbeaten in the league with a victory on Thursday, although a bye early in the schedule has their record at 3-0, a game behind Hunter in the win column.
In one of Thursday’s late games, Sky Blue rebounded from Tuesday’s narrow loss to knock off another Division II entry, Team Black. Staffed by Philadelphia University hoopsters, the Black roster includes 2011 GA grad Monica Schacker. Recent Mount St. Joe grad Kelsey Jones has signed with Philly U., but is not playing summer ball due to an injury suffered during her final high school season.
Team Black (1-3) only trailed 24-22 with four-and-a-half minutes to go in the first period, but by the time the intermission arrived, Sky Blue had gone up by 10, 28-38. The leaders set about widening the gap as the second round got underway, and near the midway point of the period, a lay-up and free throw by Tiffany Johnson (a rising junior out of Cheltenham High School) spread the margin to 16 points, 51-35.
From there, Sky Blue cruised to a 74-49 victory behind a 26-point performance from guard Brittany Sicinski, who as a Downingtown West senior in 2012 almost singlehandedly knocked Mount St. Joseph out of the PIAA District 1 tournament.
On an adjacent court, another late game matched up Team Gold against Heather Gray. Gold had 6’2” Cardinal O’Hara grad Maureen Leahy (Bryant University) back in the ranks, while Heather Gray (1-3) was playing without its own 6’3” Kerry Kinek, a rising Lehigh sophomore who was an All-Patriot League first team pick as a freshman last winter.
As the teams seesawed up from a 6-6 tie, Heather Grey gained a 9-8 edge that would be its last lead of the game. At the 10-minute mark Gold was up 12-9, then that score stayed on the board for almost four minutes.
Recent Swarthmore College grad Madeline Ross and current St. Joe’s player Natasha Cloud got Gold going again by taking the ball to the hoop, and with the clock down to four minutes their team had doubled up the Gray at 22-11. The leaders drew away a little more before the period ended, and at the interlude the tally was 31-15.
In the second half a modest rally by Gray closed up the score to 39-26 with 13 minutes left to play, but following a time-out, Team Gold was on the upswing once more. Bridget Higgins, a 2012 Mount grad now playing at Pitt, was one of the mainstays at point guard, and another MSJ alum, recent Harvard grad Elle Hagedorn, played her customary gadfly defense.
Leading the offense in the 25-point victory were Leahy and former O’Hara teammate Cloud, each with 15 points, and yet another Lions alum, guard Mackenzie Rule (Class of ’13, headed for St. Joe’s) scored seven points.
Ross finished with 11 points and Higgins had 10 for the winners. A former Swarthmore player on the other side of the court, Kathryn Stockbower, paced Heather Gray with 16 points.