by Tom Utescher
Mount St. Joseph Academy only turned out six players for last Monday’s championship game in the Lou Cappiella Summer Basketball League, but that was sufficient to enable the Magic to get past fellow finalist Pope John Paul High II School, 30-22. The Mounties did most of their scoring in the first half, going into the intermission with a 25-10 lead and then holding on in the second period to defeat the Golden Panthers despite a marked drop in offensive production.
It was the Mount’s third title over the last four seasons in the Cappiella League, which is run by former Chestnut Hill College and Springside School coach Brian Morris.
After early MSJ field goals from the paint by senior Emily Carpenter and junior Sarah Wills, 11th-grader Libby Tacka scored in transition and Carpenter added a short jumper from the lane. With two lay-ups and a three-pointer, Pope John Paul kept pace up to the middle of the first half, only trailing 8-7.
The Magic pulled away over the last eight minutes of the period, starting with back-to-back lay-ups by Tacka. Senior Caitlin Morrissey sank a midrange jump shot, and sophomore Grace Gelone (a Norwood Fontbonne Academy alum) scored on the inside to cap off an 8-1 run by the Magic over a period of two-and-a-half minutes.
After the Golden Panthers netted their first field goal in five minutes, MSJ 10th-grader Julie Hoover hit a lay-up and then Tacka fired from the left side of the three-point loop to make it 21-9 with a little over two minutes remaining in the opening half. Single free throws by Gelone and Wills were added, then Morrissey converted off of an offensive rebound to give the Magic a 25-10 advantage at the break.
When play resumed, the Mount appeared to have forgotten the way to the basket, scoring just five points in the entire second half. With about four minutes left to play, the Golden Panthers had the gap down to seven points, at 28-21. Wills scored to put Mount St. Joe’s final total on the board, and Pope John Paul could only manage a lone free throw the rest of the way.
Tacka led the champions with 12 points on the night, with Wills adding five and Carpenter and Morrissey netting four points apiece. Three points from Gelone and two from Hoover completed the scoring for the Magic.