by Tom Utescher
Summertime, and the living was easy for the scoreboard that was being used to keep track of a summer basketball bout in the Lou Cappiella League last Monday. With halftime just 30 seconds away, the electronic device had only been called on to record a total of nine points for Mount St. Joseph Academy and Norristown High School.
With a relatively small turn-out, the Mount offense was struggling, trailing the Eagles, 6-3. A late bucket by junior guard M.K. Maloney got the Magic within one point of the leaders at the intermission, and after Norristown opened the second half scoring, Mount St. Joe finally clicked on both ends of the court, shutting out the Eagles the rest of the way and going on to win, 29-8.
Sophomore forward Ashley Smith had a game-high seven points, and close behind with six points apiece were her classmates and fellow front-court players, Grace Gelone and Alex Natale. The Mounties, who were league runner-up to Neumann Goretti last summer, raised their 2014 mark at Kendrick Rec Center to 3-0.
There certainly was cause for concern in the first phase of last Monday’s set-to, as the Magic opened the game’s scoring with a free throw by senior Caitlin Morrissey, but added no more points for almost 10 minutes. They trailed 6-1 before Smith hit a jumper for the first MSJ field goal of the night.
Fortunately, the Eagles weren’t exactly scoring up a storm, either. After MSJ’s Maloney popped in a 15-footer from the left wing with 15 minutes remaining in the first half, the Mounties were only down 6-5 as they went into their huddle. They wouldn’t have been behind at all if they’d made more than one of the eight free throws they attempted in the opening period.
A little baseline jumper by Norristown made it 8-5 in the opening minute of the second half, but the Mount shut out the Eagles the rest of the way. Gelone banked in a field goal for the Magic, then Maloney put them ahead for good, 10-8, with a three-pointer from the top of the key. Gelone converted a pair of offensive rebounds, and after a free throw by Smith, Morrissey also made good off of a rebound, and Mount St. Joe now had a double digit advantage, 17-8.
Senior point guard Mary Kate Ulasewicz hit a lay-up, and after that the forwards went back to work, as the last 10 MSJ points came on three buckets by Natale and two by Smith. After a shaky start, the Magic had turned in a solid second-half performance for the victory.