by Tom Utescher
In 2013 and 2014, Mount St. Joseph Academy won back-to-back Catholic Academies championships while losing a total of just one league game. With three of last year’s starters now graduated, including two who will be playing at the NCAA Division I level, the Magic are not expected to be as dominant in league play next season.
As the only other league member joining the Mount in the Lou Cappiella Summer League, Nazareth Academy would be the first AACA franchise to test its mettle against the new-look Magic. Last Monday’s scheduled meeting provided the Pandas with a sterling opportunity to take the measure of the Mount; the local ballclub was missing Libby Tacka, a two-year starter at shooting guard, as well as several other projected varsity players.
Although Nazareth was not at full strength, either, it was still a little surprising that the game turned out to be such a one-sided affair. After putting up the first dozen points of the evening, Mount St. Joe built up a 22-5 halftime lead, and went on to win, 40-8.
The first five on the court for the Magic included the only returning starter on hand, senior point guard Mary Kate Ulasewicz. She was joined by classmates Emily Carpenter and Caitlin Morrissey, forwards who were on the varsity roster last winter, but did not see a great deal of playing time.
Sarah Wills, a rising junior who was usually the first forward off the bench for MSJ during the 2013-14 campaign, was part of Monday’s starting line-up along with sophomore guard Julie Hoover, who performed mainly in a JV role last winter. Hoover is a 5’9” guard with good quickness; she was one of the top sprinters on the MSJ track team this spring.
Taking the opening jump for the Magic, the 5’11” Carpenter scored the first basket of the night, and went on to accumulate a game-high 12 points.
Carpenter soon scored again on the inside, Wills hit a midrange jumper and a pair of free throws, and Ulasewicz and Morrissey each added a lay-up to give the Mount a 12-0 lead before Nazareth finally got on the scoreboard with a drive to the hoop near the middle of the first half.
Sophomore forwards Grace Gelone (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy grad) and Ashley Smith subbed in and played well, each adding a field goal to help the Mount remain on a roll. The tally was 22-4 before the Pandas tacked on the final point of the half from the free throw line.
The second period featured more of the same. Carpenter rebounded well and rang up four more field goals to finish with an even dozen. Eight points apiece were recorded for Ulasewicz and Wills, while Morrissey and Hoover each finished with four.