Mount senior guard Bridget Higgins hotfoots it towards the basket. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

The defending District 1 champion Mount St. Joseph Magic laid a solid foundation for another successful season before going into their holiday break, reaching an overall mark of 7-0 with last Thursday night’s 50-21 win over visiting St. Basil. The league victory gave the Magic a 4-0 record in Catholic Academies competition.

Sophomore Alex Louin (four steals) topped a list of nine MSJ scorers with 14 points, and two fellow guards, senior Bridget Higgins (seven rebounds, five steals) and junior Kelsey Jones, added eight points apiece. Among the forwards, senior Cailin Schmeer netted four points and pulled in a team-high nine rebounds, and junior Meg Geatens put up six points.

Senior guard Maddie Kohler and sophomore forward Carly Monzo each scored three points, and afterwards Kohler observed “I think we’re playing a lot better as a team now. In the beginning of the season we weren’t executing our offense the way we wanted to.”

The two new starters for the squad this year are tenth-graders Louin and Monzo, and Kohler commented, “Alex has really settled into her role on the team. Carly’s getting used to being in the forward position, and she’s really skilled, also. They’re both very athletic.”

Last Thursday’s guest, St. Basil, headed back to Jenkintown with a record of 1-4 overall, and 1-3 in the AACA. Senior guard Erin Fenningham paced the Panthers with 10 points at the Mount, and sophomore Molly Greenberg led the visitors on the boards with six rebounds.

Fenningham fired the first field goal of the game, a three-pointer from the right corner. More than three minutes elapsed before the Magic got on the board thanks to Louin’s score off a steal. Offense from Higgins and Jones helped the Magic move into an 8-5 lead by the close of the quarter.

Just as the second period got underway, Geatens stole the ball and broke downcourt for a basket, then a pair of lay-ups by Jones and a free throw by Schmeer put more distance between the Magic and the Panthers, with the 7-0 MSJ spurt making it 15-5.

Midway through the second round, a “three” by the visitors’ Holly Forst (five points total) cut the gap to seven points, and that proved to be the last field goal of the first half. From the free throw line, the Magic shot four-for-six in the remaining minutes, while St. Basil was two-for-six, setting the tally at 19-10 for the intermission.

Mount St. Joe had the upper hand, but did not appear invulnerable.

In the MSJ huddle, Kohler reported, “Coach told us to contain Fenningham. He wanted us to play full-court defense and emphasize doubling on her, and we wanted to play good help defense because they were driving the whole time. We needed to rebound better, also, and I think we did that in the second half.”

After the break, Louin scored 12 of her 14 points for the night. She and Higgins each dropped in transition lay-ups, and a jumper and a free throw by Schmeer rounded out a 7-2 Magic surge to start the second half. The remainder of St. Basil’s points in the contest came on three widely-separated three-pointers, not the stuff of a meaningful comeback attempt.

In a six-minute stint spanning the third and fourth quarters, Mount St. Joe scored 15 unanswered points, and with the count at 41-15 with under five minutes to go, the hosts began pulling starters off the floor for good. A lay-up by sophomore Regan Gallgher (two assists) and two free throws by junior Adrienne Cellucci helped spread to score to 50-18 before the Panthers put in the final field goal of the evening, a three-pointer banked off the glass with 15 seconds remaining.

Kohler, a 5’3” guard, may not play basketball in college, but she wants to keep improving her game during her final high school season.

“I’m continuing to work on my shot,” she said, “and I’m trying to drive a little bit more, but with my size it’s kind of hard. I’ve gotten more rebounds this year, though. Sometimes I can sneak in under people, and I also get some by running the floor hard on the fast break so I’m there if a rebound comes down.”

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