Mount basketball masters Merion in step toward playoffs

by Tom Utescher
Posted 2/7/24

Figuring out the playoff picture in Catholic Academies basketball has become easier in recent years.

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Mount basketball masters Merion in step toward playoffs


Figuring out the playoff picture in Catholic Academies basketball has become easier in recent years. Overall membership has dropped from eight to six schools, and one of them, tiny Sacred Heart Academy, only participates in a single round of league games and is not eligible for the AACA tournament.

That means that only one of the five remaining squads (which play the traditional double round of league games) will not advance to the league semifinals.

Mount St. Joseph Academy was trying to avoid that fate last Tuesday evening, when Magic hosted Merion Mercy Academy.

For all intents and purposes, the Mount clinched a playoff berth with a 52-14 romp over the Golden Bears. The Magic improved to 6-13 overall and 3-4 in league play. Merion dropped to 0-6 in the AACA, and with league leaders Gwynedd Mercy and Villa Maria still to play, it's highly unlikely that the Bears could catch the Mount.

Still on the AACA regular-season docket for the Magic are Gwynedd and Villa Joseph Marie, with the latter game likely to have a bearing on which team is seeded third and which is fourth for the AACA tourney.

Before Tuesday's home game, Mount St. Joseph recognized its three graduating seniors, Emily Birmingham, Audrey Kukla, and Grace Scharnikow.

Birmingham, a four-year varsity player, will attend the University of Notre Dame, while her two classmates have not yet firmed up their college plans.

Back on January 9, the Magic had won 44-28 at Merion Mercy, and last week's rematch at the Mount was even more one-sided.

With a jumper and a lay-up by Kukla, the Mounties were off and running, surging ahead 10-0 before Katie McGovern got Merion on the board with a basket from the paint. Coming off the MSJ bench, sophomore Shay Gura nailed back-to-back three-pointers as the hosts charged from a 13-2 lead at the quarter to a 30-10 advantage at halftime.

Things didn't get better for the Bears after the break; their output fell to a total four points for the entire second half. After attaining a 46-13 lead at the three-quarter mark, Mount St. Joseph flooded the floor with subs and still pulled away a little more.

Kukla and junior guard Jill Marcolina led the winners with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Gura finished with six points and Birmingham with five, while a number of other players contributed two points apiece. Junior Caroline Messick scored a team-high eight points for Merion Mercy.