In a summer league outing, Mount St. Joe junior Mary Kate Ulasewicz takes a defensive stance at midcourt. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Power forward Emily Carpenter isn’t generally regarded as an outside shooting threat for Mount St. Joseph Academy, but the rising junior nailed a huge medium-range jumper for the Magic last week in the Lou Cappiella Summer Basketball League.

After the Magic were forced into overtime by Norristown High School, the Eagles seemed about to win the game when they scored off a rebound with 10 seconds left in the three-minute OT period. Mount St. Joe had just enough time to get the ball down court and put it in the hands of Carpenter, whose shot went through the net right at the buzzer to give the Magic a 46-45 victory.

It was the last game of the regular season, and the win kept Mount St. Joe in second place heading into this week’s playoffs, with a record of 4-2. They will have to face Norristown again in the semifinal round, though, since the Eagles are the third seed in the tournament. In the other semifinal contest, undefeated Neumann Goretti High School was slated to play number four Radnor High.

Early scoring from sophomores Libby Tacka and Sarah Wills, as well as from Carpenter, led the Magic out front, 7-3, in the first three minutes, but the Magic would never make a clean break from the Eagles. Norristown senior Briana Hedgepeth, a good-sized guard who can slash quickly to the basket and also rebound effectively, almost singlehandedly kept her team in the game during the first half, scoring 12 of the Eagles’ 15 points.

Mount St. Joseph’s 20-15 lead at the interlude included six points from sophomore Kristen Lucas and five from Carpenter.

In the first five minutes of the second half, the Mount had the lead up to nine points several times (24-15, 28-19), but the Eagles, now with more balance on offense, kept clawing back. They would never take the lead during regulation time, but going into the final 30 seconds the Magic were only ahead by a single point, 39-38.

The Mounties came back on the floor from a time-out and quickly turned the ball over, but Norristown missed a lay-up at the other end and MSJ’s Ulasewicz corralled the loose-ball rebound. Fouled with eight seconds left, she made the first shot of a one-and-one, then after the Eagles missed another lay-up, Hedgepeth grabbed the rebound and went back up to score just before the buzzer. The contest was headed to overtime at 40-40.

Scores in the paint by Carpenter and Lucas were sandwiched around a lone free throw for Norristown to make it 44-41, but as the clock hit the one-minute mark Hedgepeth put in a lay-up. She was fouled on the play, but she was unable to convert the free throw to tie the game.

Mount St. Joe had a 44-43 edge and also had the ball, but the Magic committed another ill-timed turnover with a little over 40 seconds to go. Norristown worked the ball around in its offensive set, and wound up opting for an outside shot. Although this attempt failed, Hedgepeth was there to rebound the miss, and her lay-up moved the Eagles ahead, 45-44, with 10 ticks on the clock.

By the time the Mounties got into position on offense and delivered the ball out to Carpenter on the right wing, she no longer had time to go to the basket. She squared up and calmly released the game-winning jumper, which went in just as the buzzer sounded.

The junior finished with 11 points, while Lucas led the winners with an even dozen and Tacka wound up with eight. The Magic received six apiece from Ulasewicz and Wills, and three from sophomore Caitlin Morrissey.

Norristown’s Hedgepeth, who had kept her team from getting hopelessly buried in the first half, ended the night with a game-high 24-points.