by Tom Utescher
If Big Maybelle Smith or Jerry Lee Lewis were able to take a gander at the standings in the NCAA women’s summer basketball league at the end of last week, they might have predicted that there would be a “whole lotta ‘breakin’ goin’ on.”
With just one night of regular-season play remaining on the schedule, there was such a logjam in the middle of the win/loss ledger that it looks like tiebreakers will have to be employed every which way in order to seed teams for the league playoffs.
After last Thursday night’s action, Team Gold remained the league leader at 10-1 and Team White (West Chester U.) was sitting second at 9-2, but five other franchises, including the Team Black crew that features Mount St. Joe and Germantown Academy graduates, all had 6-5 records.
Meanwhile, two Springside Chestnut Hill alums on Team Maroon will have a bye on the last night of regular season play, ending up with a mark of 6-6. Also remaining in the hunt for one of the eight playoff berths is the Kelly Green team coached by former Mount parent Ted Hagedorn and featuring 2014 MSJ grad Alex Louin. Theirs was one of three teams each sporting a 5-6 mark at week’s end.
There are two teams that are well-and-truly out of contention, Team Red, which is 2-9, and Team Royal Blue, at 0-11 on the year.
Kelly Green entered the week in dire straits in the standings with a 3-6 record. In a must-win situation, they pulled off the most dramatic victory of the week on Tuesday, reducing a double-digit deficit and using a final three-ball to knock off a talented Hunter Green team, 59-57. They improved to 5-6 on Thursday, when winless Royal Blue only turned out four players and had to forfeit.
Kelly started off on Tuesday with a three-pointer from former North Penn shooting guard Vicky Tumasz, who has thrown in her lot with Shippensburg University. Villanovans Louin and Megan Quinn (the 2013 Inter-Ac League MVP from Episcopal Academy) joined in the scoring, and almost six minutes into the bout their squad enjoyed a one-point edge at 11-10.
Hunter began to pick up the pace in transition, and started to hit from the three-point line. In a span of only four minutes, they held Kelly without a field goal during an 11-2 run that included treys from three different players, including Louin’s former Catholic Academies rival Erin Fenningham, a St. Basil’s alum who is midway through her tenure at Holy Family University.
The outside scoring by Hunter was particularly bad news for Kelly, since Hagedorn’s team also had to worry about the inside production of St. Joseph’s forward Sarah Fairbanks, one of the most prolific scorers in the league. The Kelly club didn’t box her out well during the first half, and she slipped inside to score off of rebounds as well as converting entry passes. She had 16 points in the book at halftime and Hunter, which had led by as many as a dozen points (35-23), cruised into halftime ahead by 11, at 40-29.
Things didn’t improve immediately for Louin and company as the second period commenced; they incurred their largest deficits of the evening at 44-31 and then at 48-35 with almost nine minutes elapsed. What got them back in it was a 9-0 run that began with a score off a rebound by Quinn and a transition lay-up by the team’s other 6’2” forward, Maureen Leahy (Cardinal O’Hara/Bryant University). Louin hooped a pair of free throws, then netted a “three” from the left flank.
That made it 48-44 with eight minutes to go, and Kelly would stay within striking distance from then on. With 3:54 on the clock, a follow by Leahy tied the contest at 50-50, but then Kelly faded over the next two minutes as Hunter went up by six on back-to-back field goals and two free throws. Kelly Green didn’t begin its final offensive thrust until the game clock was down to 42 seconds, when Quinn was fouled on a successful rebound conversion and made her free throw, as well. Hunter’s Sarah Veilleux, who also plays with Fairbanks at St. Joe’s, hit the second of two fouls shots at the other end for a 57-53 tally, but this would prove to be her team’s final point of the night.
With 20 seconds left, Louin arced in a “three” from the right flank to make it a one-point affair. Fouling in the open floor, Kelly sent a Hunter guard to the charity stripe for a one-and-one, and when she missed the first shot, Leahy collected the rebound. As the clock dipped under 10 seconds, Kelly worked the ball around on offense and eventually got it over to Tumasz a few steps beyond the three-point loop on the left wing.
Known as an outside ace in high school, the recent North Penn grad had struggled a bit with her perimeter shooting in the summer league, but on this night she had already put away a pair of treys. She squared up and launched the ball, and it slipped through the net with three seconds left, leaving Hunter with no option but to fling up a desperation shot that was way off the mark.
Quinn and Louin led the scoring for the victors with 19 and 17 points, respectively, while Leahy finished with 10 and Tumasz with nine. Rounding it out were two points apiece by Courtney Hinnant (Spring-Ford/Millersville) and Mackenzie Rule (Cardinal O’Hara/St. Joseph’s).
Hunter Green got a game-high 26 points from Fairbanks and 11 from Vielleux, with four points added by Erin Martin (Indiana U. of Pa.), who played two years for Penn Charter before transferring to Plymouth Whitemarsh High School as a junior.
On the same court, there was almost as dramatic a finish in one of the late games on Tuesday, as Team Pink (aka University of the Sciences) dealt the first loss of the season to Team Gold. Neither squad was at full strength, but Pink had many more bench players available.
Pink took the lead for good at 53-52 with a little under five minutes to go, then held on down the stretch. They were actually up by six before Gold hit a three-pointer at the end for a 64-61 final. Pink marked down a team-high 17-point for Jessica Sylvester, a former Catholic Academies guard from Nazareth Academy.
Meanwhile, Team Maroon actually outscored Team White on an adjacent court, but Maroon had to forfeit due to the use of an ineligible player.
Former SCH hoopsters Michelle Boggs and Elana Roadcloud (both Class of 2012) were back at it for the Maroon on Thursday, and here their squad succumbed to Team Purple, 51-41. Roadcloud scored four points and Boggs, two, but Maroon, which had gotten off to a 6-2 start in the league, suffered its fourth loss in a row to finish the regular season back on the Mendoza line.
On the court next door, Royal Blue couldn’t raise a quorum, and their forfeit moved Kelly Green to within one win of the .500 mark, at 5-6. Kelly finishes out the schedule against Team Orange, which led through most of the first half on Thursday but wound up losing to Navy Blue, 97-81. That gave Orange a 6-5 mark, so if Kelly beats them next time out, both teams would finish 6-6 and Kelly would win the head-to-head tiebreaker and earn the higher spot in the standings.
In one of the late games on Thursday, Team Black had the unenviable task of taking on 10-1 Team Gold, which was coming off its loss to Pink and was eager to get back in the win column. Black (made up of players from Philadelphia U.) was missing GA grad Monica Schacker, who had netted 15 points in a 60-55 victory over Team Sky Blue two nights earlier. A number of other regulars were also absent, and the Philly U. summer squad had to tackle the league leaders with a total of just five players.
Guard Kelsey Jones, a 2013 Mount graduate, furnished Team Black with the first points of the evening on a baseline drive, and in the early going the underdogs nipped at the heels of the Gold group. The Philly U. bunch only trailed 13-16 at the 10-minute mark, but Gold pulled away to lead 38-20 at the half and went on to win 84-50.
Jones added a three-point bucket to her opening field goal to finish with five points, while her fellow Team Black guard Najah Jacobs, a senior out of Central High, pumped in a game-high 23 points.