by Tom Utescher
On Tuesday, on the only night of competition in the NCAA Summer League last week due to the holiday, the number of undefeated teams was reduced to one. Receiving a 21-point performance from former Spring-Ford High School guard Ashley Wood (Kutztown ’13), Team White improved to 4-0 by rolling over Kelly Green, 86-49.
The other previously unbeaten franchise, a Hunter Green team that includes a number of the league’s best three-point shooters, fell 68-61 to Team Gold (which has a number of Mount St. Joseph Academy connections), leaving each squad with a 4-1 record.
Those two ballclubs became part of a three-way tie for second place along with a Sky Blue team made up mostly of West Chester University students. Gold already owns a head-to-head victory (by one point) over Sky Blue, which does not square off against Hunter Green until July 18.
One step below, in fifth place, is 2013 Germantown Academy grad Kiernan McCloskey and her Purple team, which had received a bye the previous week and went into the holiday break with a 3-1 mark.
In some ways, Team Gold could be looked upon as the defending champion, but there have been major personnel changes in the league this year and the only members of the Gold group who belonged to the 2012 titlists (then called Lime Green) are coach Ted Hagedorn and his daughter Elle, a 2013 Harvard graduated who previously starred at Mount St. Joe’s.
Out of the 12 members of the last summer’s Lime Green team, eight are not playing in the league this summer. In addition, Notre Dame Academy and St. Joseph’s University grad Katie Kuester assembled a new team, the Hunter Green, and Nazareth Academy alum Lindsay Fluehr put together a club largely populated by her teammates at the University of Scranton. The other Lime Green veteran still playing this summer, Liz Sharlow (Lehigh ’16), is now playing for Team Purple alongside GA’s McCloskey, who will matriculate at Lehigh this September.
They and their fellow Purple players got past Navy Blue in one of the early games last Tuesday, 65-59. For the winners, Sharlow and former Archbishop Wood standout Christine Verrelle (Dowling College ’15) each accumulated 13 points and McCloskey contributed seven, while Navy Blue succumbed in spite of a 21-point performance by Cheltenham High product CeCe Andrews (St. Joseph ’16).
In the other early games, Sky Blue took the measure of Royal Blue (which includes recent GA grad Fran Sweeney), 91-74, but there was a much closer game between Heather Gray and Team Black (all from Philadelphia University). It was a good thing for the Black that they pulled out a 60-59 win, since longtime Philly U. coach Tom Shirley was in the house, watching from the spectator seats.
A rally late in the second half brought Heather Gray back into contention, and they moved ahead, 57-56, with around 90 seconds to go. A jumper from the left baseline by 2011 GA graduate Monica Schacker moved Team Black ahead, but Gray retook the lead with less than half-a-minute left. Driving into the paint, rising Philly U. senior guard Megan Finn was fouled in the final seconds, and she made both free throws to seal a one-point victory.
Tori Arnao, a junior forward out of Archbishop Wood, led the scoring effort for the winners with a dozen points, and Schacker had eight for the evening. The game-high of 17 belonged to Heather Gray forward Kathryn Stockbower (Upper Dublin/Swarthmore).
League-leading Team White won easily in one of the three late games, while Team Maroon (largely University of the Sciences players who compete in the same conference as Philly U. and Chestnut Hill College) rode a game-high 20 points from incoming freshman Camille McPherson to a 61-57 victory over Team Red.
The marquee match-up, though, was undoubtedly the clash between the Gold team helmed by Hagedorn (whose teams, under different names, have won the last three championships), and the sharpshooting Hunter Green crew that entered the contest as the undefeated league leader, one game up on the White in the win column.
Gold, whose lone loss came against Navy Blue back on June 20 (58-54), had both of its 6’2” players in attendance for the first time this season. Cardinal O’Hara grad Maureen Leahy (Bryant U. ’16) had made most of the games, but it was the first appearance for another rising sophomore, Sarah Fairbanks. She plays for St. Joe’s, but for the summer she’s living back home near Harrisburg, Pa.
With a good turn-out, Coach Hagedorn was able to run a platoon system to keep his players fresh, subbing five-for-five. Each team led by a few baskets through the middle of the first period, with Gold gaining an early edge, and Hunter Green then forging ahead 22-18 with eight minutes left in the half.
Team Gold went in front again when 2013 Swarthmore grad Madeline Ross hit three-pointers just before and just after Fairbanks drained a pair of free throws. Their ballclub maintained a modest lead up to the intermission, when the tally was 32-27.
The score spread out to 41-27 in the first three minutes of the second stanza, when Ross and Swarthmore colleague Jessica Jowdy found the basket, while St. Joe’s Natasha Cloud netted a jumper from beyond the foul line and then went coast-to-coast for a lay-up. Hunter Green was able to keep the contest from getting entirely out-of-hand, but still trailed 48-35 more than seven minutes in.
Hunter’s three-point shooting skills make them capable of mounting a rally in a hurry, and it was at this juncture that St. Joe’s guard Erin Shields set about scoring 14 of her game-high 21 points, nailing four three’s during this late outburst.
Hunter had the lead down to two points (52-50) with 7:22 left, but over the next four minutes six-for-six foulshooting by the Gold levered the lead back out to 62-55. Back-to-back treys by Shields and her younger sister Shannon (a rower at the University of San Diego) made it a one point game, but once again one of the scrappy Division III players came up big for Gold. Caitlin Vasey (C.B. East/Lebanon Valley) got down the floor to score in transition off of a pass from Cloud, and wound up with a three-point play thanks to a successful free throw.
Elle Hagedorn then hit the front end of a one-and-one to make it 66-61 with 1:11 to play. The final score went up in lights due to another fast break score set up by Cloud, who chased down a rebound and rifled the ball ahead to fellow Cardinal O’Hara grad Mackenzie Rule for a lay-up.
Cloud emerged as the high scorer for the winners with 14 points, and there were also double-digit efforts from Leahy, with 11 points, and Hagedorn and Ross with 10 apiece. Erin Shields’ 21 points for Hunter Green was complemented by eight points each from Kuester and from recent Upper Dublin graduate Lauren Rothfield (Salisbury U.).