Playing for Team Gold, 2012 Mount St. Joe grad Maddie Kohler (left) shadows an opponent during an opening night game in the NCAA League. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last Tuesday evening was opening night in one of the most entertaining of summer athletic enterprises, the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s NCAA Summer Basketball League.

As usual, graduates of area schools were represented on a number of the color-coded teams in the league, which features athletes from all three NCAA Divisions. There is a strict limit on the number of players from a given Division I school that can be on the same summer team, but several Division II schools play almost their entire collegiate line-up as a single unit.

Ted Hagedorn, the father of three past and present Mount St. Joseph Academy hoopsters, has been the coach of the squad that has won the last three titles in the NCAA League.

An effort was made during the league’s 2013 player draft to make sure that he did not have such a stacked line-up as in past years. This was largely successful, but his Team Gold did manage to pull out a win in its Tuesday debut.

With Hagedorn’s middle daughter Elle (a newly-minted Harvard grad) on the roster along with 2012 Mount alums Bridget Higgins (University of Pittsburg) and Maddie Kohler (St. Mary’s College), Gold got the better of Team Purple, 47-42. The Purple pack included 2013 Germantown Academy grad Kiernan McCloskey, who signed with Lehigh University. The other Lehigh player on Purple’s roster is another 6’1” forward, rising sophomore Liz Sharlow. She was a member of the victorious “Team Ted” last summer.

Two more GA grads faced one another on an adjacent court. Philadelphia University, one of the DII teams that plays together in this league, features shooting guard Monica Schacker, who left the Patriots in 2011. After starting college at the University of New Haven (Conn.), she transferred back home and enjoyed a highly-successful sophomore season last winter at Philly U.

A 2013 Germantown Academy grad, guard Fran Sweeney, was playing against Schacker as a member of Team Royal Blue. Sweeney was a distinguished multi-sport athlete at GA, and she will continue her basketball career at Atlanta’s Emory University.

Her summer team consists mainly of Division III players, with one Division I and one Division II athlete mixed in. Sweeney will get to play alongside a future college teammate, as well; rising Emory senior Gabi Whitmer is also performing for the Royal Blue.

Last Tuesday, however, their squad struggled against the unified Division II franchise that is Team Black, and the Philly U. doppelganger gained a 50-31 victory.

Team Gold, with the three former Mounties, was missing one of its “bigs,” St. Joseph U’s Sarah Fairbanks. However, another 6’2” post player, Cardinal O’Hara grad Maureen Leahy (Bryant U.), did well down on the blocks. She would finish with a game-high 15 points, receiving a number of assists from Higgins along the way.

In building a 28-22 halftime lead, Gold got nine points from Leahy and four from Higgins, while three other players each put in a three-pointer. Their Purple rivals were led at the half by an eight-point performance from Lexi Scrivano (Central Bucks East/Millersville U.), but Sharlow, who scored five points early, got smacked in the chops and had to leave the floor for the evening.

Team Purple was still able to trim its deficit to a single point (40-39) with a few minutes remaining in the game, but when a time-out was called with 1:17 to go, Gold had the margin back out to six, 47-41. A lone free throw in the losing cause rounded out the scoring.

Scrivano led the Purple bunch with 10 points and McCloskey came away with four. Leahy’s effort for Team Gold was complemented by six points apiece from two former O’Hara players now affiliated with St. Joe’s, Natasha Cloud and Mackenzie Rule.

Any young players who’d like free admission to a three-point shooting clinic, just show up when Team Hunter Green is playing. Their roster includes all three sharpshooting Shields sisters out of Archbishop Carroll, and a pair of perimeter marksmen who played in the Girls Inter-Ac League for the Academy of Notre Dame, Katie Kuester and Kathleen Fitzpatrick. With this line-up, it’s bound to be “bombs away!”