by Tom Utescher
Two local 2013 high school grads, Adrienne Cellucci of Mount St. Joseph Academy and Gianna Pownall of Springside Chestnut Hill, finished up their summer basketball schedule with a victory in the Malvern League last Wednesday evening.
Both are rising sophomores for the Ursinus College team, which led by as many as 17 points in the second half, but then needed a late jumper to beat a ballclub called ML Alum, 43-41. A third Ursinus soph with area ties, Germantown Academy grad and Flourtown native Angela Upright, was out to observe a recent contest, but she has not been able to play summer ball this year since she’s rehabbing following knee surgery.
The ML Alum team, a mixed bag of former NCAA Division III players, did not have youth on their side, but they did have seven players, whereas Ursinus had to make do with no subs at all in Wednesday’s finale.
The two area players did most of their scoring in the first half to get the Bears off to a solid start. Pownall struck several times in transition and owned six points of the 9-8 edge her team gained during the first seven-and-a-half minutes.
Cellucci got going in the middle of the period, dropping two three-pointers from the left wing and adding a lay-up. Later, Pownall scored her last field goal of the game (eight points total) and the Bears’ last bucket of the first half as the scoreboard settled in at 29-15 for the interlude.
Cellucci’s final points of the evening (10 total) came on a lay-up that launched the scoreboard at the start of the second half. While ML Alum answered with a lay-up and a free throw, 2014 Cardinal O’Hara grad Rachel Guy netted a baseline jumper and a lay-up for Ursinus, but only the first of these baskets was reflected on the scoreboard. Fortunately, this became a moot point when Ursinus won in the end, but the final score actually should have been 45-41, not 43-41.
Throughout the first half, the younger Bears squad hustled around the court to force turnovers out of the post-collegiate bunch. It helped them build up a double-digit lead, but without any reserve players, it also used up a lot of energy, and Ursinus began to wear down as the second half progressed.
Starting near the middle of the period, ML Alum put together a 14-4 surge that closed up the score to 37-32 with a little over four minutes remaining. More problems arose for the Bears when their taller rivals began to hit a few outside shots after scoring exclusively from the paint the rest of the evening.
For most of their second-period points, Ursinus relied on Guy and on junior Caroline Shimrock, whom former Mount players will remember as a league opponent at Gwynedd Mercy Academy. After the count reached 37-32, Shimrock scored off a rebound and on a baseline drive as the score seesawed to 41-36.
ML Alum wasn’t done though, begging a three-pointer from the right wing and then adding a pair of free throws to level the score at 41-all with 45 seconds left. Ursinus came down the floor on offense, used up a little clock, and then had Guy nail a 15-footer from right side that proved to be the game-winner. A final off-balance shot by ML Alum wouldn’t fall, and the Bears ended their summer campaign with a victory. Shimrock finished with 14 points and Guy had 11 for the winners.