by Tom Utescher
The old Catholic War Veterans basketball tournament that Mount St. Joseph Academy attended annually for many years has now morphed into the George W. Snear Tournament, but the outcome was the same as it has been for a number of seasons now, as the Magic captured the tourney title last Wednesday evening.
Bringing an 8-0 record into the final game, the Mounties were set back on their heels at the start of the contest, and trailed Plymouth Whitemarsh High School at the end of the first period, 13-6. The Magic rallied to gain a two-point lead at the intermission and then clobbered the Colonials in the second half, winning 55-35 with a game-high 18-point performance by senior forward Steph Smith, who was named tournament MVP.
In the semifinal round on Tuesday night, Mount St. Joe had dispatched Norristown High, 48-14, while PW cruised past Pope John Paul II High School, 57-26.
The Catholic War Vets tournament had been held at Kennedy-Kenrick High School outside of Norristown, but the closing of the school last spring put the kibosh on that arrangement. This past fall, Kennedy-Kenrick merged with the old St. Pius X in Pottstown to populate John Paul II, a newly-constructed school in Royersford. The reconstituted holiday hoops tournament was moved to the Fellowship House in Conshohocken, where the War Vets event had been staged back in the 1990’s.
In Tuesday’s tournament opener, a drive by MSJ senior guard Mary Jo Horgan started up the scoreboard, then three field goals by Smith gave the Magic an 8-0 lead before center Tyshay Britten hit a lay-up for Norristown with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter. The 6’2” Britten did not score again in the game, and no one else from her team found the hoop until Mount St. Joe had built a 24-2 lead a few minutes into the second period.
As usual, the Magic used aggressive defense to set up their transition offense as they rolled to a 28-6 halftime lead.
The Mounties actually seemed a little bored in the third period, nonchalantly missing a number of field goal attempts before the period ended in a 6-6 draw. The MSJ reserves reinvigorated their ballclub in a 14-2 fourth quarter.
Smith combined a game-high 13 points with eight rebounds and five blocked shots, while Horgan and sophomore Kelsey Jones had seven points apiece. Juniors Cailin Schmeer and Bridget Higgins scored six and four points, respectively, while freshman Alex Louin put up five points. Junior Maddie Kohler, sophomore Meg Geatens, and freshman Carly Monzo (just off the injured list) each chipped in with a lay-up.
Guard Steph DiNolfi, with six points, was the only Eagle to score more than two points in the encounter.
After this cakewalk in the semifinals, it took the Magic awhile to adjust in the championship game when PW charged out of the gate and went up by seven points in the opening stanza. Smith led the Magic back, along with Horgan and Jones, who once again matched scorecards and wound up with 13 points apiece.
Schmeer shot eight points and Higgins scored three for the Mounties, who reinforced their 23-21 halftime advantage during a 15-8 third quarter.
The Colonials, who came away with a 3-3 record, received 11 points from Alyssa Butcher and eight each from Erin Martin and Gabby Schumacher. Schumacher, a junior from Flourtown, is the older sister of Springside’s Julia Schumacher, a freshman point guard for the Lions.