Mount rising junior Taylor Sistrunk (right) prevents a Pennsbury player from penetrating. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

The Mount St. Joseph roster was not a long list last Wednesday evening, when the Magic opened play in the SMG Sportsplex Summer Basketball League in Warminster.

With only one returning starter (rising junior forward Kelly Rothenberg) among a total of just six players on hand, the Mount lost its first game, 44-19, to Pennsbury High School, but then eked out a 37-35 victory over a Hatboro Horsham High School squad that was also short-staffed.

Making up the rest of the small MSJ contingent were Rothenberg’s classmates Maeve Gallagher, Maura Scanlon and Taylor Sistrunk, rising senior Caitlin Iadonisi and Alyssa Brachelli, an incoming freshman guard.

Sistrunk, a forward, provided most of the Mount points in the first game – 14 of the Magic’s total of 19. Scoring on three drives and one 15-foot jumper, she had the Mounties ahead 8-7 with nine minutes left in the first of the 20-minute (running clock) halves. Scoring in transition, Brachelli became the only Mount player besides Sistrunk to hit a field goal during the game.

This made it 10-7, but after that Pennsbury outpointed the Magic 11-2 in the remaining minutes of the first period. Ahead 18-12 at the break, the Falcons maintained their momentum by beginning the second half with a pair of three-point field goals.

They would score the first 11 points of the period before Scanlon broke the ice for Mount St. Joseph with a free throw. Pennsbury remained in control for 25-point victory.

In their second game, the shorthanded Magic were more evenly matched with a Hatboro Horsham squad that had a total of just five players. Sistrunk got the scoreboard moving with a three-pointer, and after that it was Rothenberg who would step up to lead the MSJ offense, accumulating 23 points in the contest.

Incoming Mount St. Joseph freshman Alyssa Brachelli navigates through traffic in transition. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

While the junior forward put up points in the paint, Scanlon popped in a three-pointer and Brachelli scored off a steal. Although the Magic led 23-19 at the half, they could never really break free from the Hatters.

When Sistrunk was fouled while shooting with 7:47 to go in the second half, the teams were tied up at 27-27. On this play a Hatboro player was injured, and she would be unable to continue after being helped off the court. The teams agreed to play four-on-four the rest of the way.

Sistrunk made the first of the two free throws she’d been awarded to nudge the Mounties ahead, 28-27, but later on, with a little over 90 seconds to play, the teams were locked up at 33-33.

A Rothenberg lay-up was answered by a jumper by the Hatters, making it 35-all going into the final minute. The Mount missed a shot the next time down the floor, but at the other end Hatboro turned the ball over with a walk with 23 seconds remaining.

The Magic came down the floor on offense, then coach Jim Roynan (who will be heading into his second season with Mount St. Joe) called time-out with 11.5 seconds on the clock. On the inbounds play from the baseline, Sistrunk got the ball in to Rothenberg almost under the basket for a game-winning lay-up.

It’s hoped the Magic will have more bodies available for their next summer outing, but no one’s sure just when that will be. Mount St. Joe is listed as a substitute team in the SMG League, and will only play when one of the other schools is unable to turn up for its scheduled Wednesday doubleheader.