by Tom Utescher
Area players ended their run in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s Summer Basketball League last week in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the league tournament.
Seventh-seeded Team Lime Green, mostly made up of Chestnut Hill College players, gave third-seeded Team Red (a West Chester University/Gettysburg College hybrid) a real battle in one of last Tuesday’s quarterfinal contests, but succumbed 57-53.
In another close game on the same night, a Royal Blue squad with Germantown Academy grad Erin Lindahl on the roster went up against third-seeded Team Sky Blue (largely Holy Family University), and number six Royal saw its season end with a 58-56 loss.
Team Kelly Green, seeded ninth and reaching the quarterfinals with an upset win in a play-in round, had to go up against the top seed on Tuesday, Jefferson University’s Team Black. This could have meant a rematch between the Cunningham sisters (both Mount St. Joseph Academy graduates), but that was not to be. Caitlyn Cunningham, who’ll be a junior at Jefferson, suffered a knee injury toward the end of the regular season. Her younger sister Lauren, who’ll enter Virginia’s Marymount University next month, was not able to play for Kelly Green on Tuesday.
Jefferson won handily, 83-57, advancing to Thursday’s semifinal round to face summer and winter archrival University of the Sciences, known as Team Maroon this summer. In the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship game last March, Jefferson edged USciences in overtime by one point, and the two teams battled into overtime once more in last week’s summer semifinal.
Here, fourth-seeded Maroon engineered a 60-52 OT victory, moving on into this week’s championship game against Sky Blue, which topped Team Red in the semi’s, 63-59. Sky’s Holy Family players also compete in CACC during the regular collegiate season, joining Jefferson, USciences and Chestnut Hill.
In one of the early quarterfinal games on Tuesday, the seeding disparity between Team Black and Team Kelly Green was quickly reflected on the scoreboard. At the outset, senior guard Alynna Williams (Plymouth Whitemarsh H.S.) hit a three-pointer to give the Jefferson group a lead they never lost, and a little over seven minutes into the affair, the gap had grown to 10 points.
Team Black was up by 20 in the middle of the second quarter (37-17) and led by 30 points (67-37) late in the third period. Freshman Haley Meinel registered a game-high 17 points for the winners. Scoring 15 points apiece were Jefferson’s Williams (with three three-pointers) and Kelly Green’s Raven James, a Villanova University senior.
The other early contest was much closer, but in the end third-seeded Sky Blue eked out a 58-56 victory over Team Royal Blue.
On the court vacated by teams Black and Kelly Green, CHC’s Lime Green team, ranked seventh, tackled Team Red. The summer Griffins on the Lime team led both at the quarter (17-13) and at halftime (22-17).
In the second half, the jump shots did not fall as consistently for Lime Green which, on this hot night, had only two subs on hand while Team Red had five. Hanging close but trailing through the first part of the contest, Team Red drew even at 29-all with four minutes left in the third period, and the Golden Bullets were up 42-35 at the start of the fourth quarter.
With about three-and-a-half minutes left, Lime Green had trimmed its deficit to three-points, at 48-45. The gap remained the same after two Team Red baskets were answered by driving layups by CHC junior Cassie Sebold. Sebold then drew a foul and made the first of two free throws to make it 52-50 as the final minute approached.
Lime Green committed a foul and lucked out as Red missed two free throws, but then Lime sent Red players to the line two more times, and the three points that resulted spread the score to 55-50. It became a two-point game once more when Sebold canned a “three” from the left wing, but now the final 10 seconds were ticking away, and Red won by four points thanks to a transition layup at the buzzer.
Sebold led all scorers with 17 points, and 12 were credited to the only non-CHC player on hand for Lime, Erin Doherty (Catholic U. ’23). Chestnut Hill’s own Lauren Crim and Bri Hewlett had 10 and nine points, respectively.
In the other late game, Team Maroon, seeded fourth, eliminated number five Purple, 68-56. The University of Sciences players from Maroon had defeated the Jefferson U. bunch in last summer’s championship game, but this time the teams would meet in the semifinal round. Maroon had beaten Black head-to-head in their regular-season meeting, but had lost to both teams Red and Sky Blue, thereby earning a relatively-low fourth-place seeding. The latter two teams met in Thursday’s semifinal round.
As in Team Black’s quarterfinal game, Williams got the scoreboard rolling, this time with a 15-foot jumper. Her team was up 15-12 at the end of the first quarter, but by halftime Maroon had inched ahead, 26-25. The score was knotted at 41-41 as the end of the third quarter drew near, then with four seconds left Team Black went ahead with a jumper from just above the foul line by Williams.
The evenly-matched ball clubs were tied at 50-50 with under a minute-and-a-half remaining in the fourth quarter. Neither team would score again in regulation, with Black getting called for charging twice. Maroon had the ball and called timeout with eight seconds left, then on a drive from the left by Irisa Ye, the ball traveled across the rim bracket and avoided the hoop.
Team Black would manage just two points during the three-minute overtime period, with a jumper by Williams sandwiched between a pair of Maroon three-pointers during the first two minutes. The Jefferson group had to start fouling to keep their rivals from running out the clock, and on two trips to the line, Ye went four-for-four.
In between, she grabbed a loose-ball rebound of a missed shot by Team Black, and she would wind up with a game-high 29 points. Williams, who hit five three-pointers, was close behind with 27 points in the losing cause. Sophomore Bridget Arcidiacono added nine points for Team Black, and Maroon received 11 from senior Jordan Vitelli.
In the other semifinal game, Team Red held a 32-24 advantage at halftime, then Sky Blue rallied for a 63-59 victory and a spot in the championship game.