by Tom Utescher
Given the personnel on the various Athletic Association of Catholic Academies basketball teams this season, everyone viewed defending champ Mount St. Joseph as the team to beat.
In just the second league game on the Magic’s schedule, Villa Maria Academy beat them, 35-25, in a December 17 match-up in Malvern. In their rematch last Monday evening, the Hurricanes almost did it again, but host Mount St. Joe was able to send the game into overtime and ultimately prevail, 42-40.
Although Villa is a bit down on talent this season from an objective standpoint, when the Hurricanes meet the Mount there is not only an intra-league dynamic at work, but also a fierce longstanding rivalry between these particular schools.
Last week, Magic senior Alex Louin pulled five rebounds to go with her game-high 21 points, a figure which included 11 points in the second half and two in overtime. Sophomore Libby Tacka provided the Mount’s other two points after the game went into OT, and it was a lay-up by senior Colleen Steinmetz (nine points, four steals) that pulled the Mount even at 38-all at the end of regulation play.
Junior Mary Kate Ulasewicz and senior Carly Monzo contributed three and two points, respectively, for the Mounties, who improved to 10-1 in the AACA and 16-2 overall. Villa, which lost both of its games against St. Basil, slipped to 8-3 in the league, and 10-7 altogether.
Villa got off to a 4-0 lead before a relatively rare three-pointer by Steinmetz got the Mount on the board. Louin followed with a short jumper to give the hosts their first lead, but Villa, running the floor aggressively, was up 12-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Hurricanes still led at the half, 21-17, and when they hit two more field goals over the first two minutes of the third round, MSJ called time-out, now down by eight points. Accurate shooting from long-range rescued the Magic, with Louin nailing two three-pointers, Ulasewicz netting one, and Tacka drilling a “two” from just below the key-top.
The triple by Ulasewicz got the home team back within one point of the ‘Canes by the end of the third period, 29-28.
The Mount couldn’t take that last step, though, was behind 36-31 with a little over three minutes to go. In those final minutes the Magic were able to outscore Villa, 7-2, receiving a “three” and a much shorter jumper from Louin. She then earned an assist on a basket by Steinmetz, who leveled the score at 38-all on a short baseline shot.
With 18 seconds left, Villa’s Jackie Carlin stole the ball and went in for a lay-up, but Louin blocked the shot and the contest soon went into overtime.
Here, a jumper from the lane by Louin was quickly matched by a shot from the right edge of the foul circle by the Hurricane’s Molly Namiotka. Turnovers by both teams followed, but the one with the most impact occurred when a Villa pass across the lane floated a little too high and was picked off by MSJ’s Tacka, who then raced downcourt for the game-winning lay-up.
Villa called time-out with 15.7 seconds left, now down 42-40. The Hurricanes’ Carlin shot twice over the next 10 seconds, but saw the first attempt blocked by Louin, while the second shot missed and was rebounded by the Mount senior. With all of her heroics up to that point, Louin was entitled to miss the front end of a one-and-one with a fraction over three-seconds on the clock. After that, a final half-court heave by Villa’s Devon Tirney was off-the-mark.
Namiotka led the losing cause with 16 points, while Carlin added eight and Mora Fetterolf and Danielle Knopp scored six points apiece.