Top Two Seeds Avoid Upsets in Summer League Playoff Openers

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation Women's NCAA Summer League playoffs got under way Wednesday in quarterfinal action with one minor and one major upset in terms of seeds in the quarterfinals at Northeast High.

 In the major upset of note, sixth-seeded Vegas edged No. 3 Lime, 58-56, while No. No. 5 Red slipped past Gold, 71-68.

No. 1 seed Columbia Blue prevailed over No. 8 Cardinal, 62-54, and No. 2 Kelly beat Royal, 58-54.

The action moves to semifinals Monday night at Parkwood Youth Organization, DunksFerry & Mechanicsville Roads, which is a few blocks away from the I-95 Academy Road exit in Northeast Philadelphia. Nearby landmarks are the Junod Playground and St. Anselm's Church and School.

Since summer has finally decided to arrive, the Guru is told that the facility, which will also be the site of the finals, is air-conditioned.

On Monday, Columbia and Vegas will meet at 7 p.m. before Red and Kelly meet at 8:15.

The best of three finals will begin next Wednesday night, continue to the following Monday, and then, if necessary, the following Wednesday.

"After seeing these teams all summer, none of the winners would surprise me," commissioner David Kessler said prior to the start of the playoffs. "These teams were that close to each other. And it is interesting because you have a mix of (NCAA) Dvision I players with D-IIs and D-IIIs, some players just want to test their skills while others always are out to win because of their competitive nature."

Incidentally, Kessler was suppose to be heading for retirement from running the league after the season, but his farewell tour may ultimately exceed the annual adios concerts by the Eagles rock group.

The Guru didn't make it to his high school alma mater live Wednesday night, but the stats report notes that in the big upset, La Salle's Ashley Gale and led Vegas with 13 points and Drexel's Marissa Crane scored 12.

The Vegas roster also consists of such notables as recently-graduated George Washington star Lisa Steele of South Jersey, Drexel's Jennifer Stjarnstrom,and  Holy Family graduates Kelly Killion and Melissa Brooks.

Lime's Gabriella Marginean scored 21. The Drexel star is the reigning Colonial Athletic Association player of the year after leading the Dragons to a first-ever conference title and NCAA appearance. Recent Penn grad Carrie Biemer scored 14 points. The squad also includes Drexel's Alison Lupariello, Penn State's Renee Womack and La Salle's Michele McCaughern along with Penn's Caitlon Slover, former Penn star Katarina Lackner, and incoming Drexel freshman Taylor Wootton.

 Incidentally, under NCAA regulations, only two players from an existing D-I roster can play on the same team in summer leagues but incoming freshmen are exempt from the limitation.

In the Red win, recently-graduate La Salle star Margaret Elderton scored 26 points and West Chester's Megan Stewart scored 13. The Red team roster is dominated by West Chester players such as Mary Kate Serratelli, Natalie Winters, Alexandra Lennon, Lauren Commodari and Shamyra Hammond. La Salle's Chelsea Conner is also on the squad as are Drexel's Ayana Lee and incoming freshman Fiona Flanagan.

St. Joseph's Ashley Logue scored 21 points for Gold, while former La Salle star Davineia  Payne had 14 points. The team is Gold is coached by former St. Joseph's star Tracy Harmon. La Salle seniors Tara Lapetina and Jamie Walsh are also on the team as are a trio of Lehigh stars: Tricia Smith, Becky Guman and Alexa Williams, whose Mountain Hawks won the Patriot League last season. St. Joseph's Ashley Prim and Mireia Vila, an incoming freshman, are other players on Gold as is Princeton's Addie Micir.

In the Columbia Blue win, St. Joseph's Amy Gillespie scored 20 points and the Hawks' Shelby Smith, an incoming freshman, scored 13. The squad also has incoming Hawk freshman Ashley Robinson and St. Joseph's senior Brittany Ford. Swarthmore's Kathryn Stockbower is another player as is her winter teammate Brittany Schmelz. Former Holy Family star Kate Baum and Philadelphia U. senior Andrea Notta are two other members, as are Cheyney seniors Charnelle Taylor and Angel Henderson.

Cardinal is dominated by Holy Family players, who lost their first five and then won seven straight in making the playoffs. Part of the rough start was a delayed notice of the league to incoming freshmen in the wake of Tigers coach Mike McLaughlin's move as the new Penn coach and the ensuing hunt that occurred for his successor.

Lehigh's Kristen Iafolla led Cardinal with 13 points, while Holy Family's Lauren Peters scored 10 points. Tigers star Catherine Carr is among the slew of players from her school, while Lehigh's Emily Gratch is also on the team.

In the other quarterfinal result, Kelly's Laura Johnson of Princeton scored 12, while St. Bonaventure's Dana Mitchell and St. Joseph's Katie Kuester, the daughter of new NBA Detroit Piston's coach John Kuester, scored 10 each.

The Kelly roster also contains Drexel incoming freshman Hollie Mershon.

Royal's Aly Byorick of Lehigh scored 13 points and West Chester star Dana Weems scored nine points. Lehigh's Courtney Dentler is also on the team along with a slew of West Chester players, which forced the league to actually field two squads dominated by Golden Rams stars.

That's for this report.

 -- Mel