June 26, 2019
By Morgan Wenger
Although they have won two of the three titles since the inception of the league, the Alumni team has never gone through the entire league season undefeated. The league veterans entered the semifinal round with a 7-0 record this year and seemed like a sure bet to roll to their third straight championship.
They would soon find out that they were in for their toughest matchup of the summer. New Philadelphia set the tone early in their semifinal game with the Alumni. A hot shooting half, led by Lily Goodwin’s four three pointers, had New Philadelphia only down two at halftime. As the second half progressed, it looked as if the younger New Philadelphia team was wearing down the back to back champions. All time league scoring leader Tara Schaffter bolted out to a 16 point first half, but seemed to be contained by New Philadelphia as the second half wore on. The young Quakers looked to be cruising to the upset win as they built a seven-point lead with under three minutes to play. Displaying their championship mettle, the Alumni team promptly turned up their defensive pressure in a last gasp effort to stay alive. New Philadelphia could not hold the lead, and the game was tied at 56 with just over a minute remaining. Both teams had empty possessions ending in a turnover, leaving the ball in the Alumni team’s hands with the clock ticking down. Olivia Besancon kept her dribble after coming off a Tara Schaffter screen, and calmly sank a contested three pointer as the buzzer sounded to advance her team to their fourth consecutive championship game. Schaffter finished with a game high 22 points, while Olivia Besancon’s clutch shooting down the stretch gave her 20 for the night. New Philadelphia was led by Callee Barker’s 16 points in defeat.
The other semifinal game pitted WCAL league rivals Dalton and Smithville against one another. The teams had split their two earlier meetings in league play. Behind the play of Makenna Geiser, Dalton took the suspense out of this game early. Geiser hit four three pointers in the first half to lead Dalton to a 34-11 halftime lead. The Bulldogs cruised to a 46-31 win and a championship game rematch with the Alumni team. Geiser led the charge with 20 points while Shalen Guilliams had 10 points in defeat for Smithville.
After recharging their batteries during the other semifinal game, the Alumni team looked to have a bounce in their step early in the championship round. Tara Schaffter, once again, led the charge in the first half. Schaffter forced her way inside, scoring and drawing fouls on her way to a 14-point first half. Just as soon as it looked like the Alumni team would pull away, Dalton started clawing their way back into the game. Mia Weaver was solid throughout the game, scoring 11 second-half points to finish with a team high 18 for the game. After being held scoreless during the first half, Makenna Geiser (11 points) displayed a renewed energy after halftime to try and lead her team to the title. In the end, the Alumni team held on for a 52-50 win and their third straight league title. Schaffter led the champions with 20 points while Olivia Besancon chipped in 10.
Please visit the Summer League page for box scores, scoring leaders, and standings from this year's league.
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