Mount comebacks fall short at Villa Joseph Marie

by Tom Utescher
Posted 1/27/21

At Villa Joseph Marie last Thursday, the Mount St. Joseph Academy Magic let a second-quarter lead slip away, and by the middle of the third period the visiting Mounties found themselves down by 20 …

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Mount comebacks fall short at Villa Joseph Marie

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At Villa Joseph Marie last Thursday, the Mount St. Joseph Academy Magic let a second-quarter lead slip away, and by the middle of the third period the visiting Mounties found themselves down by 20 points. As the momentum shifted back and forth in the last dozen minutes, the Magic made comebacks late in the third and fourth quarters.

They got within two points of the Jems, but no closer, as Villa Joe widened the gap in the final moments to win, 56-47. The Bucks County club, led by former Springside School coach Steve Flynn, improved to 3-1, while Mount St. Joe returned home with a 1-2 record.

Sophomore Lauren Hoffman scored 11 points for the Magic, and two other guards, senior Paige Metzler and sophomore Chloe McGrorty, contributed seven points apiece. Villa Joseph Marie was paced by 19 points from senior Julia Beck and 12 from junior Carly Austin.

In the junior varsity game that proceeded the varsity contest, the Mount JV rang up a lot of fouls. The MSJ varsity picked up where their schoolmates left off, and the Jems capitalized by making 26 of the 32 free throws they shot. The Mounties, in contrast, went three-for-four from the charity stripe in the varsity match-up.

An injury kept MSJ senior standout Grace Niekelski off the floor for the second game in a row. Four sophomores and a freshman started for the Magic, while the Jems began with three seniors and two juniors. The additional experience of the Villa Joe players appeared to help them perform with some poise when challenged by Mount St. Joe late in the game.

A lay-up by sophomore Georgia Pickett kicked off the scoring for the afternoon, and later the Mount received a short jumper from freshman forward Emily Birmingham and a pair of free throws from junior forward Devon Diehl. VJM junior Isabella Solov stuck a three-pointer from the left baseline and three other Jems registered regular field goals to give the hosts a 9-6 lead at the quarter.

A "three" from the right wing by Hoffman tied the bout early in the second round, then a pass from Diehl set up a Pickett lay-up that gave the Mounties their last lead of the afternoon, 11-9. Two free throws by senior Katelyn Weller brought the hosts back even, then they went ahead for good with two makes at the line by Beck.

The home team got into the foul bonus with three minutes left in the second stanza, then proceeded to net six of seven free throws to lead 27-15 at halftime.

Numerous times, closely guarded Mounties began their shooting motion by bringing the ball up front of them from waist height, leading to a number of blocks and steals by Villa defenders. On many occasions, the Magic would then commit fouls while trying to get the ball back.

The Mounties needed to begin reducing their dozen-point deficit at the start of the second half; instead, they fell farther behind. A little more than halfway through the third quarter, the Jems led by a full 20 points, at 37-17.

After that, though, the Magic rallied vigorously. A field goal by McGrorty got things going with three-and-a-half minutes left in the period. She knocked down a three-pointer a little later, while fellow 10th-grader Keirsten Pumilia popped one in as well. Metzler scored twice from shorter range, and Diehl and Birmingham also found the net.

When Hoffman hit a final lay-up at the end of the frame, the visitors were back within four points of Villa Joe, 33-37.

Hoffman drove the lane to score again in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, making it a two-point game. For the Jems, a baseline drive by Beck halted the Mount's advance, then the Magic committed their seventh team foul of the half. Austin collected two points from the one-and-one with a little under six minutes remaining in the game, and a minute later Beck was fouled while scoring a lay-up. She made the free throw, as well.

VJM's Austin scored off of a rebound, then sank a foul shot a little after that. Villa Joe appeared to have solidified its position, leading 48-36 as the clock dipped under the three-minute mark. The Magic had one more rally left in them.

Metzler and Hoffman lobbed in three-point shots from the right and left flanks, respectively, and a fast break bucket by Pickett with 1:49 on the ticker closed up the score to 48-44.

The Jems called time-out to discuss their situation. They were still ahead, and they had also gotten into the foul double-bonus. When play resumed, junior Emma Hagan made good on one of these opportunities.

The Mount missed a shot from beyond the three-point loop, and two made free throws by VJM's Beck spread the score to 52-44 with 43 seconds to go. After a missed lay-up at the other end, the Magic went back on defense and Hoffman committed her fifth foul of the afternoon. Beck notched both free throws on the play to make it a 10-point game.

The visitors lofted another lay-up that was off the mark, but in a scramble for the rebound Villa Joe knocked the ball out of bounds. The Magic got the ball to Pumilia a little to the left of the keytop, and she stroked a three-pointer. Less than 10 seconds remained though, and when the Mounties fouled VJM senior Ellie McLaughlin, she converted on both free throws for a nine-point margin at the end.

Following the three leading scorers for the Magic were Diehl, Pickett and Pumilia, with six points apiece, and Birmingham, with four. For the winners, Beck and Austin were backed up by Weller, with nine points, McLaughlin and senior classmate Maggie Hensel, with four points each, Hagan and Solov, with three apiece, and senior Maggie Tomaselli, with two points.

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