by Tom Utescher
Last week in the Philadelphia/Suburban women’s college summer basketball league, the regular season wrapped up and the quarterfinal match-ups were set. Once the regular season ended last Tuesday in the 10-team league, the top six squads passed directly into the quarterfinals. The four teams ranked seventh through 10th engaged in a play-in round on Thursday evening to determine which two squads would occupy the last two positions in the quarterfinal bracket.
One of these slots was filled by seventh-seeded Team Lime Green, made up largely of Chestnut Hill College players. They won their Thursday play-in against number 10 Team Golden Sun, 65-62. That ended the summer season for Golden Sun’s Arcadia University players, one of whom is guard Joelle Bridges, a rising sophomore who is a graduate of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
The other play-in winner was ninth-seeded Team Kelly Green, whose roster includes 2019 Mount St. Joseph graduate Lauren Cunningham. Kelly’s 101-80 victory on Thursday evening meant the end of the line for eighth-ranked Team Orange, whose ranks are mostly filled by Ursinus College athletes.
On Tuesday, the last night of scheduled regular-season games, it just so happened that the top five teams in the rankings played – and defeated – the bottom five teams. No one moved up or down in the standings from the end of the previous week.
Team Black (Jefferson University) and Team Red (West Chester/Gettysburg) both had 8-1 records, and Black claimed the number one seed for the playoffs by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Red. The same tiebreaker came into play in the third/fourth seedings involving two teams with 7-2 records, with Team Sky Blue (predominantly Holy Family University players) getting the nod over Team Maroon (University of the Sciences).
Black finished out the regular season on Tuesday evening by beating Team Royal Blue in an unexpectedly close game, 61-53. Team Black was missing Mount St. Joe grad and rising Jefferson junior Caitlyn Cunningham, who’d injured a knee the previous week. Royal Blue lacked former St. Basilian Casey Remolde, who’ll play for Division II Kutztown University.
For Royal Blue, Germantown Academy grad Erin Lindahl (Emory University ’20) scored three points before retiring with an ankle injury. Plymouth Whitemarsh alum Alynna Williams posted eight points in the winning cause.
Bridges helped her Arcadia University colleagues on Team Golden Sun hang in for three quarters against Team Purple, which consists mainly of current and former East Stroudsburg University hoopsters. The fourth quarter began with a 44-44 tie, but then the Division II Purple players asserted themselves, holding Sun to a pair of free throws in the final frame and winning 72-46.
CHC-powered Lime Green led Team Red at the half, 29-26, but ultimately succumbed 61-54. The only Lime player on hand who was not affiliated with Chestnut Hill, IUP’s Alana Cardona, rang up a game-high 23 points.
The summer Griffins did not have Cardona on hand for their play-in game on Thursday, but they did have back sophomore guard Lauren Crim, who’d been on vacation the previous week. Still, Lime Green got all it could handle from Division III Golden Sun, which got out to an 8-0 lead before Crim got the Green on the scoreboard with a three-pointer from the left wing.
Still, Sun led 16-12 going into the final minute of the first quarter. Fouled on a drive, Lime Green sophomore Abby Spratt made both the layup and the free throw, and with three seconds left, junior guard Cassie Sebold bagged a baseline jumper to nudge the CHC bunch ahead, 17-16.
Golden Sun came back to lead 34-32 at the half, then nine points from Crim helped Lime Green go back in front, 43-42, with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, the Arcadia ensemble would finish the third round with four consecutive three pointers, two of them coming from Bridges on the right flank.
Trailing 54-43 for the start of the final period, Lime Green began to climb back into contention with a layup and free throw by sophomore forward Bri Hewlett and a “three” from incoming CHC freshman Lindsey Lane. The Lime ladies finally went ahead for good with three minutes left in the game, when Sebold popped a three-ball from the right side to make it 60-58.
The junior then shored up the lead with a successful drive to the basket, and after a lone Golden Sun free throw was answered by two made foul shots by Crim, Lime led 64-59. There were now only a dozen seconds left, and after Golden Sun’s Taylor Fritz netted a trey to make it 64-62, her team still needed to foul to stop the clock.
Sebold made one of two free throws for the CHC-staffed squad with four-and-a-half seconds left. A desperate final heave by Golden Sun actually had the ball hit the right side of the rim, but it bounced away for a three-point Line Green victory.
Crim and Hewlett each came away with 19 points, Sebold had 16 for the winners and Bridges finished with 10 points for Golden Sun.
The second play-in contest was a free-for-all in which Kelly Green eliminated Team Orange, 110-88. Kelly would move on to a July 30 quarterfinal game against number one Team Black, while Lime Green would face second-seeded Team Red.