by Tom Utescher
In collegiate women’s hoops action in the NCAA League last week, two franchises with area players went 1-1 in their Tuesday and Thursday outings, while a third lost both of its games.
The Kelly Green team that features 2014 Mount St. Joe grad Alex Louin turned back a tough challenge from Team Pink on Tuesday to prevail, 43-37. Two nights later, Kelly gave a good account of itself until the last 10 minutes of its showdown with undefeated league leader Team Gold (9-0), finally falling 61-49.
Germantown Academy alum Monica Schacker (’11) and Mount grad Kelsey Jones (’13) joined their Philadelphia University colleagues on Team Black, which succumbed to Navy Blue on Tuesday, 45-36, then bounced back on Thursday to down Team Maroon, 52-45.
Maroon, whose roster includes 2012 Springside Chestnut Hill Academy grads Elana Roadcloud and Michelle Boggs, was fortunate to have stockpiled half-a-dozen wins prior to last week’s contests. Maroon not only lost to Black, but also fell victim to Hunter Green last Tuesday, 68-57.
Still, they ended with week with an overall mark of 6-4, while Black, at 5-4, also has a decent shot at joining the eight-team (out of 13 total) league playoffs.
Kelly Green is still on the bubble, slipping to 3-6 with Thursday’s unsurprising loss to Gold. They could still get into the tournament if they can win a tough bout against Hunter (6-4) on Tuesday and then take care of business against winless Royal Blue and against an Orange squad which only beat Royal by three points on Thursday.
Given this scenario, Kelly’s game last Tuesday against Team Pink represented a pivotal point in the schedule; a loss here probably would’ve doomed the Green group. Pink is the summer guise of the University of the Sciences team, a Division II squad which plays together as a unit and which came into the week at 4-4.
For some time both Kelly and Pink struggled to locate the basket, and it took seven minutes for the scoreboard to creep up to a 4-4 tally. Kelly edged ahead by a point, but at halftime Pink possessed a modest lead, 18-15.
A few ticks into the second stanza, the USciences doppelganger was up 25-19, receiving a pair of free throws and a three-pointer from Alex Louin’s former AAU teammate, Colleen Walsh (Shipley School). After that, though, Kelly Green held its rival without a field goal for five minutes, as former Inter-Ac League MVP Megan Quinn (Episcopal ’13) joined Cardinal O’Hara grads Mackenzie Rule and Maureen Leahy in an offensive thrust.
Louin, scoreless up to this point, also played with more poise, netting her first two points from the foul line to tie the match at 28-all with a little under 11 minutes left to play.
A little later, a three-pointer by the Mount grad gave Kelly the lead for the first time since early in the game, but Pink didn’t fade away. The contest was tied for a final time at 37-37 with three minutes remaining, then, in succession, Louin hit two free throws on a shooting foul, drove the lane for a lay-up, and then scooped up both points on a one-and-one as the game entered its final minute. The final count of 43-37 was on the board, and after a Pink time-out with half-a-minute left, Kelly was able to hold the ball until the buzzer.
Louin and Quinn, soon to be Villanova University teammates, scored 11 points apiece, and seven points each were added by Leahy and 2014 Spring Ford High School grad Shelby Mueller (Lycoming College). Brianne Traub led the Pink with nine points, and seven points came from Central High grad Isabella Ross, a feisty forward who gave battle to larger players in the paint all evening.
On an adjacent court on Tuesday, 2012 SCH grads Boggs and Roadcloud did not have particularly productive evenings on offense, but their Maroon team hung with Hunter Green most of the way before succumbing, 68-57.
Earlier that night Najah Jacobs, who used to play with Ross at Central, rang up a dozen points for Team Black (aka Philadelphia U.), but her squad fell 45-36 to a Navy Blue squad that received 10 points from former Friends Schools League All-Star Lauren Gold. Gold (Abington Friends ’13/Shippensburg U.) has a talented younger sister, Camryn, who is a rising sophomore at Penn Charter.
When Black and Maroon met one another on Thursday evening, a dozen points by former GA Patriot Schacker led Black out to a 33-19 halftime lead. Maroon made a run at the leaders in the second period, but Black pulled out a seven-point victory as Schacker finished with a game-high 17 points, a figure that factored in three three-point field goals.
Jacobs, fellow guard Bria Young, and forward Mary Newell each had eight points for the victors, and former Mountie Jones tossed in a pair of free throws. Former Central Bucks South standout Rachel Falkowski (East Stroudsburg U.) led the losing cause with nine points. Boggs did not play, and Roadcloud ended up with a lone free throw.
As the lone unbeaten squad in the league, Team Gold now confers marquee status on each contest it plays. Kelly Green was in the role of challenger on Thursday, and kept things interesting well into the second half.
Kelly’s guards were unable to provide much offense during the affair, but fortunately the “bigs” were more productive. A total of 35 of the team’s final 49 points came from three athletes in the six-foot to 6’2” range; Quinn, with a game-high 17 points, Lexi Scrivano (Central Bucks East/Millersville) with 10, and Leahy, with eight. They mixed in an occasional outside shot with their inside offense, as well.
While Gold was missing one of its leading scorers in Jasmine Elum, Haverford College’s senior point guard, Pallavi Juneja, stepped up to record a team-high 14 points, with four three-pointers. Her second trey of the game had Gold up 15-9 with a little under eight minutes remaining in the first half.
MSJ grad Louin drove successfully for a lay-up and knocked down a free throw added onto the play, touching off a little run for Kelly Green. Quinn followed up with a pair of buckets from the paint, and Rule stuck a 15-footer from the right wing to round out a 9-0 spurt that moved their ballclub ahead on the board.
Rule’s former O’Hara teammate, St. Joe’s senior Natasha Cloud, drove for a Gold lay-up, and then Juneja struck once again from the three-point loop for a 20-18 lead. In the closing minutes, Kelly Green ran the floor well and had both Rule and former North Penn star Vicky Tumasz (Shippensburg U.) score in transition, so Kelly huddled up for halftime with a 22-20 edge.
Points from Leahy, Scrivano, and Quinn helped widen the gap early in the second stanza; it was 31-25 four-and-a-half minutes into the new period.
Gold regrouped and used field goals from four different players to fashion an 8-0 counterattack for the lead. A little later, a three-pointer by Louin tied the bout at 35-all, then Quinn hit from the right end of the foul line to give Kelly what would be its final lead of the evening, 37-35.
Gold then got loose for another string of unanswered points; this streak was more significant and proved fatal for Kelly. Ashley Wood, a former Spring-Ford High star who just graduated from Kutztown University, bagged two field goals and Lauren Crisler (North Penn/American U.) did the same during a six-minute, 17-0 spree for the league leaders. Juneja’s fourth triple of the evening capped off the decisive run.
Kelly Green’s Scrivano hit a lay-up, a free throw, and a three-pointer in succession to close up the score to 52-43, then Wood cashed in on an and-one play and Gold led by double figures the rest of the way. Louin and Rule each ended up with six points for Kelly, while on the Gold side of the ledger Juneja was joined in double-digit scoring by Wood, with 13 points, and Cloud, with 12. Former Archbishop Ryan and Holy Family University star Meg Gibson gave a seven-point performance for the winners, and Crisler scored six.