by Tom Utescher
When a star basketball player is on the brink a scoring milestone, the natural playing rhythm of their team is invariably disrupted, even when not everyone in the gym is aware of the impending celebration.
It was just as well for senior Alex Louin and the Mount St. Joseph Magic that the star guard’s 1000th point was scored in an early-season contest in which the Mount took control very quickly.
Louin, one of the top players in the Philadelphia region this year and a Villanova signee, scored six points in the first quarter of last Thursday’s home game against Nazareth Academy to reach a total of 994 points for her high school career. From there, however, the short trip to the 1000-point plateau featured many twists and turns that set nerves on edge for everyone taking part in the countdown.
Louin eventually pushed her MSJ scoring total into four digits on the first of two free throws early in the fourth quarter, and the large crowd in the Mount’s compact gym (which included some former teammates of Louin’s) could finally exhale and watch the Magic wrap up a 66-22 victory in their Athletic Association of Catholic Academies opener.
“My freshman year on the team I saw Steph Smith and Mary Jo Horgan get their 1000 points,” Louin recalled. “It was special having all my friends here to cheer me on. It’s a great accomplishment and a testament to my hard work, but I’m glad that now we can just focus on winning games, which is more important.”
Sophomore shooting guard Libby Tacka scored all of her game-high 17 points in the first half, and senior forward Carly Monzo, who has signed with Loyola, accumulated 14 points as the Mount upped its record to 3-0.
Louin retired to the bench with 13 total points after hitting the two fourth-quarter free throws that pushed her career mark to 1001.
She began the season needing 55 points to reach 1000, and as the Magic claimed the title at Methacton High School’s tip-off tournament, Louin made rapid strides towards the milestone, scoring 19 points against Souderton High and 24 against the Methacton Warriors.
Next, the Magic had been scheduled to open league play in a game at Sacred Heart, but when that contest was snowed out on Tuesday, Louin had an excellent opportunity to make it into four figures in front of a home crowd on Thursday afternoon. The senior herself was only vaguely aware that she would accomplish the feat very shortly.
“I knew I would get there in my senior year,” she said, “but I didn’t know exactly where I was at, how many points I had. I think by the Nazareth game the other girls mostly knew, but I guess they were told not to tell me.”
As the action got underway, two early free throws by Tacka were balanced by Marissa Sylvester’s lay-up for Nazareth (1-2 after the game), then Monzo made a three-pointer from the left wing to thrust the Magic ahead for good. From the same side, Louin hit a short jumper about two minutes into the game, and over the next four minutes she tacked on two more field goals, scoring directly off of a steal, and then netting a little “J” from the lane off of a pass from Monzo.
Monzo added another three-pointer and a score from the paint to post eight points in the opening period, which ended with a 24-5 MSJ advantage. Lacking height, the visiting Pandas used their quickness to pressure the ball, but although they created turnovers at times, they usually couldn’t convert them into points.
For the first half, Tacka ended up hoisting three three-pointers while shooting six-for-six from the foul line. She also hit a lay-up off of a rebound, and her 10th-grade classmate Sarah Wills tossed in two three-point shots as Mount St. Joe proceeded to a 42-13 halftime lead.
Louin still had just six points in the book at the break, but in the Magic’s first possession of the new half, she bagged a “three” from near the top of the key, bringing her total up to 997 points. Colleen Steinmetz, a senior starter at forward, scored three times from the paint and Monzo made good off of an inbounds pass, but a couple off-balance shots by Louin wouldn’t fall.
To set the crowd’s nerves on edge to an even greater degree, Steinmetz’s third bucket made the score 53-13 with 4:47 to go in the third quarter, and with a 40-point lead being achieved during the second half, a PIAA “mercy rule” dictated that the clock would keep running the rest of the way, except for time-outs.
There would now be even less time available to Louin, but fortunately she was able to draw within one point of the major career mark by draining a pair of free throws right at the end of the third round.
By now, the Villanova recruit had a notion of what was going on.
She explained, “When it was late in the third quarter and we were up by 40, everyone told me to keep shooting, so I kind of figured it out then. They made it pretty clear.”
Nazareth scored first in the fourth quarter to make it 57-17 as the Mount began the period with Louin and four reserve players on the floor. MSJ sophomore guard Caitlin Cunningham was fouled and missed two free throws, but on the second shot Louin grabbed the rebound and was fouled, in turn.
Stepping to the line with time still ticking away, she made her first shot from the stripe to hit 1000-points on the head. Now the refs allowed the clock to be stopped with 6:29 remaining for a brief celebration. Louin received the game ball along with some balloons and flowers, and posed for some pictures with her family and Mount head coach John Miller.
Miller then subbed for Louin, and after that it was simply a matter of the Mount cruisin’ to the conclusion. Steinmetz and Wills each finished with six points, Cunningham collected five, and Ulasewicz and sophomore Kristen Lucas scored three and two points, respectively.
Sylvester paced the Pandas with seven points in the contest.
“We’ve been playing very well, and everybody’s been working hard,” Louin remarked afterwards. “I think we have a lot of versatility on the team. We can all play multiple positions, which makes it easier to put together rotations. We’re also a pretty good outside shooting team, as you saw against Nazareth.”