Sophomore Julia Schumacher scored the final basket in Springside’s summer league win last Wednesday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In a game that remained close the whole way, Springside School’s summer basketball franchise defeated Pope John Paul II High School of Royersford last Wednesday evening, 36-29. The Lions, who led 16-12 at the half, leveled their record at 2-2 in the Lou Cappiella League.

Mount St. Joseph Academy played two bouts in the league last week, employing some of its older athletes in a 37-29 win over Plymouth Whitemarsh High School on Monday, and fielding only former JV players and incoming freshmen in Wednesday’s losing effort against Norristown High.

For its Monday night game, the Mount had a mixture of varsity and JV girls, but although the Magic were playing another PIAA Class AAAA team, they did not always appear to be fully focused. A total of 10 missed free throws by MSJ players made the contest closer than it might have been.

Junior Meg Geatens and sophomore Carly Monzo led the offense in the opening minutes, and a free throw by sophomore Gen Hagedorn gave the Magic a 9-3 lead about five minutes into the game. Both offenses faltered in the middle of the half, and with less than three minutes left in the period the scoreboard had only crawled to 12-7.

From a little to the right of the keytop, Mount St. Joe senior Bridget Higgins hit a three-pointer, touching off an 11-2 advance that lifted the tally to 23-9 by halftime.

In the second half junior Erin Martin, who transferred to Plymouth Whitemarsh after completing her freshman year at Penn Charter, helped rally the Colonials. They enjoyed a 20-14 scoring edge after halftime and their nearest approach to the Mounties made it a four-point affair (33-29) with a minute-and-a-half to play.

With 45 ticks on the clock Higgins missed the front end of a one-and-one, but her sophomore teammate Regan Gallagher rebounded the miss and put in a lay-up. Getting to the line again with a dozen seconds remaining, Higgins hit both shots to set the final margin at eight points.

She led the winners with 13 points, with Monzo adding 11 and Geatens scoring six. Gallagher finished with four points and the Magic got a field goal from incoming freshman forward Emily Carpenter.

Two nights later a younger group of Mounties was no match for the size and experience of 6’3” Tyshay Britten and her Norristown team, which took away a 48-24 victory. In the following game that same night, Springside squared off against John Paul II.

On the eve of their school’s merger with Chestnut Hill Academy (effective July 1), the Lions were taking on another “combo” school. John Paul II, which opened its newly-constructed doors last September, is an amalgam of the old St. Pius X from Pottstown and Norristown’s Kennedy-Kenrick High School (which itself was a merged school).

Technically, rising senior forward Michelle Boggs would soon be playing for her third school in little more than a year, having come over to the Springside School for Girls when Cardinal Dougherty closed its doors in June of 2010. Undeterred by semantics, Boggs led the Lions through the first half with 11 points on five field goals and a free throw, accounting for most of Springside’s scoring in the period. Another senior mainstay, Sydni Epps, watched the game from the bench, temporarily sidelined by an ankle injury.

The Golden Panthers did a better job of containing Boggs in the second half, when she scored a lay-up and a free throw. The Lions were able to spread the scoring around to half-a-dozen players to remain ahead of John Paul II. Senior Alexis Giovinazzo, who contributed a field goal in the first half, added three points in the second stanza and junior Gianna Pownall, held to a free throw in the opening period, came on to hit a pair of lay-ups and a baseline jump shot. With junior Meredith Spann chipping in with a lay-up, the Lions led 32-21 with under five minutes left in the game.

The Golden Panthers used the long ball to quickly get back in contention, sandwiching a pair of three-pointers around a jumper from the foul line to make it 32-29. Sophomore Katie Shields, who stuck a baseline shot early in the period, now went in for a lay-up with 1:48 remaining to give Springside a little breathing room.

The Lions missed the front end of a one-and-one at the foul line, but at the other basket shots were no longer falling for John Paul II. Springside sophomore Julia Schumacher drove the lane for a lay-up, tacking the final figure of 36-29 on the board.