Historically, Mount St. Joseph Academy has won the great majority of basketball games it has played against Villa Joseph Marie. They did it again.
In the movie Groundhog Day, the plot centers on a character who repeatedly relives the same day over and over. Historically, Mount St. Joseph Academy has won the great majority of basketball games it has played against Villa Joseph Marie.
The Mount Magic knocked off Villa Joe, 46-40, in their first meeting this season back on Jan. 12, when the Mounties were missing two seniors starters due to injury. With those players back in action last week, the Villa Joe Jems relived defeat on Feb. 2, and this time the game was not close.
The Jems started out well and were leading the contest by three points at the end of the first quarter, but the Magic took over in the second period and went on to win by 30 points, 57-27.
Senior guard Lauren Hoffman, one of the players who'd been sidelined for weeks for medical reasons, hit four three-pointers and finished with a game-high 26 points. Her classmate and companion on the injured list, point guard Kiersten Pumilia, scored four points and senior forward Georgia Pickett put in 17. Seniors Chloe McGrorty and Carlie Shouldis added three points apiece, and junior Emily Birmingham and sophomore Addy Smith each scored two.
The Magic came away with a record of 11-9 overall and 6-4 within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies, while Villa Joe was 5-12, 1-8.
Exactly a week before Groundhog Day, the Mount broke a different pattern against another league team. The Magic had not beaten Gwynedd Mercy Academy at all in the post-pandemic period, and while shorthanded last month they succumbed at Gwynedd on January 10, 49-34.
Finally back at full strength just over two weeks later, the Magic mastered the Monarchs, 36-15, on January 26. McGrorty led the Mounties in this low-scoring affair, with 12 points.
Addressing the injuries that plagued his program at mid-season, MSJ head coach Matt Feeney said, "When you lose two of your best kids you're not competitive as a top team, and more so on the defensive end. We couldn't defend the way we wanted to defend until we had Lauren and Kiersten back in the line-up."
After the big Gwynedd victory, it was difficult for the Magic to carry that momentum forward because they didn't play again for a week. Villa Joe came out with a lot of energy, and a three-pointer and a baseline drive by Ava Gumienny gave the Jens a 5-1 lead before Pickett scored the Mount's first field goal. Two more buckets by Pickett and a lay-up by Pumilia moved the Magic into the lead, 9-7.
Villa Joe countered with a free throw and a drive by Gumienny, and then midrange shot banked in by Grace Pizzica took the visitors into the second quarter with a 12-9 advantage. That period began with a steal and lay-up by Hoffman, who scored in the same manner later on while also hitting two free throws and a three-pointer for a total of nine points in the quarter. Pickett and Birmingham both contributed from the inside as the Mounties wound up with a 25-16 halftime lead.
By the end of the third period, there was a 20-point gap between the two ball clubs, at 45-25. Hoffman rang up a lay-up and three treys during the quarter. She was on the left sideline in the defensive half of the court with a few seconds to go in the period. and looked like she wasn't going to shoot. When teammates and fans yelled at her to take a shot, she heaved the ball up just before the buzzer and it went in, to the delight of the home crowd.
From there it was a carefree cruise to a 30-point win as Coach Feeney rotated seniors and subs in and out of the game.
The MSJ mentor observed that in some ways, the team as a whole grew stronger while the seniors were out with injuries.
"When you lose two kids who play a lot of minutes, other kids see more time and they have to step up," he said. "You have other kids grow during those times, so you're a deeper team.
"Carlie Shouldis stepped up and played well, which we knew she could," he continued. "There were times when Georgia Pickett put the team on her back, and Chloe McGrorty really picked up her scoring when we needed to replace points."