by Tom Utescher
Last Wednesday evening at the annual end-of-season banquet and awards ceremony held by the William H. Markward Memorial Basketball Club, Mount St. Joseph Academy senior Alex Louin was presented with the overall Player-of-the Year Award in a addition to receiving a similar honor accorded to the top performer in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies.
One of the most highly-recruited players in the state, the six-foot guard chose to remain close to home, signing with Villanova University last November. She passed the 1000-point milestone in scoring early in her senior season, and finished her career at the Mount with 1485 points.
During her tenure at the school, the Magic won the Catholic Academies championship three times, going through the 2012-2013 season undefeated against league opponents. Mount St. Joe claimed the PIAA District 1 championship in 2011 (Louin’s freshman year), and was runner-up in 2013. The Magic advanced into the Class AAAA state tournament in each of Louin’s four seasons, reaching the quarterfinals in 2011 and making it to the second round in 2012 and 2014.
Also at the Markward Club gathering, Germantown Academy’s Margaret Anne Hubbell was named the Inter-Ac League Player of the Year. She was out of town for a service project she participates in each year, and was unable to receive the award in person. A karate black-belt headed for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Hubbell projected a larger presence at the forward spot than her 5’9” stature suggests. She transferred into GA as a junior, scoring 827 points in her two seasons with the Patriots and finishing with 1058 points overall for her high school career.
One of the 15 players (male and female) who received the William Ferguson Academic Award at the dinner was Springside Chestnut Hill Academy senior Julia Schumacher.
The 5’2” point guard does not plan to play basketball in college, heading to Drexel University in the footsteps of her older sister, Gabby. The SCH Blue Devils have only defeated Inter-Ac power Germantown Academy twice during their longstanding rivalry, and Schumacher was the high scorer on both occasions.
Two past Markward Award winners from the Inter-Ac League, Katie Rutan of the old Springside School and Maggie Lucas of Germantown Academy, were playing in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division I tournament last Sunday.
Rutan played her first two seasons of college ball at Xavier University, then transferred to the University of Maryland and had to sit out the 2011-2012 season. She then started for the Terrapins at shooting guard for two years, and this season she converted on over 40 percent of her attempts from the three-point line. She was named to the ACC All-Academic Team in 2013 and again this year.
After a disappointing early exit from the ACC tournament, Maryland arrived at the NCAA’s big dance as the number four seed in the Louisville Region and got on a roll. In the opening game, Rutan had her best performance of the first three rounds of the tourney, hitting three three-pointers and totaling 11 points in a 90-52 rout of the Patriot League champ, Army (a 13 seed).
Maryland battled past number five Texas in the second round, 69-64, then led almost wire-to-wire in last Sunday’s 73-62 upset of top-seeded Tennessee. Here, the Terps’ All-American from Harrisburg, Pa. Alyssa Thomas, rang up 33 points to propel her team into the Elite Eight.
Later last Sunday, Lucas’ Penn State team was unable to advance, playing on Stanford’s home floor and losing to the second-seeded Cardinal, 82-57.
Like Maryland, PSU didn’t fare as well as expected in its own conference championships, bowing out in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Still, a third-straight Big Ten regular-season title helped the Lady Lions become a three-seed in the Stanford Region in the NCAA’s.
Lucas, a 5’8” guard who has been magically stretched to 5’10” by public relations types, received her second straight Big Ten Player of the Year Award.
In the NCAA’s, PSU struggled to overcome #14 Wichita State in the first round, 62-56, then looked in better form in a win over number 11 Florida, 83-61. Lucas logged 22 points each time out.
Against Stanford last weekend, the Lady Lions enjoyed a 23-19 edge after 10 minutes, but they allowed Stanford to finish the half with a 25-7 run, and the host team never relinquished control. Face-guarded throughout the contest, Lucas scored a sub-par six points, but still finished her college career with 2510 points. She scored 672 points during her senior campaign, helped along by a 95-percent performance at the free throw line.