by Tom Utescher
Several area college players and teams either wrapped up or neared the end of their basketball seasons last week in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament.
The women of Chestnut Hill College, seeded third in the South Division of the conference, bowed out in the quarterfinals with a big-ticket loss to North number two Caldwell University. CHC wound up with an overall record of 19-10 after only collecting a dozen wins just two seasons earlier. The Griffins garnered their third straight CACC Rookie of the Year Award, which this season went to guard Cassie Sebold.
In the conference tournament semifinals over the weekend, Caldwell and another New Jersey School, Bloomfield College (number one in the North) lost to a pair of Philadelphia teams, Jefferson University (Philadelphia University up until this year) and the University of the Sciences.
Two Mount St. Joseph Academy alums are on the roster for South number two Jefferson, which hosted the CACC semifinals and finals. Graduate student Kelsey Jones is closing out her collegiate career, while fellow guard and MSJ alum Caitlyn Cunningham is completing her first season in action for the Lady Rams after redshirting in the 2016-17 season.
Last weekend Jefferson defeated Bloomfield, 79-67, in one of Saturday’s semifinals, and then fell to USciences (the top seed from the South Division) in the championship game on Sunday afternoon, 64-56.
In the semifinals redshirt sophomore guard Alynna Williams, a product of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, filled up the stat sheet for Jefferson with a game-high 20 points (four three-pointers) along with six rebounds and four assists. Although her Rams succumbed in the finals, Williams churned out another game-high, with 11-for-12 free throw shooting contributing to a 23-point afternoon.
Cunningham scored six points in the championship bout after recording two points and two assists the previous day. Despite Sunday’s loss, she and her teammates will appear in the NCAA Division II tournament, having received the seventh seed in the East Region in Sunday night’s selection process.
Curiously, Chestnut Hill College had ended its regular season with an 80-77 win over eventual CACC champ USciences before being routed a few days later by Caldwell, who then was knocked out in the conference semi’s by those same USciences Devils, 61-52.
Two senior starters for USciences are familiar to many former players for area high school teams. Shooting guard Colleen Walsh performed for Shipley School squads which played in the Friends Schools League and also faced many Inter-Ac League ball clubs on a regular basis. Point guard Sarah Abbonizio, the 2017-18 CACC Player of the Year, was a member of several Inter-Ac champion teams while at Episcopal Academy.
Two other Devils used to routinely encounter Mount St. Joe teams: senior Molly Greenberg (St. Basil) and junior Marissa Sylvester (Nazareth).