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Mount St. Joseph falls to Thomas Jefferson in PIAA-5A 2nd round

CHAMBERSBURG >> In the opening seconds of the second quarter, Kelly Rothenberg’s bucket capped off a 6-0 run that brought Mount St. Joseph Academy within two points of Thomas Jefferson High School in their PIAA Class 5A second-round matchup Wednesday night.

Mount had taken the Jaguars’ first punch and responded pulling within a basket. Despite chances to tie it up or even pull ahead in the immediate aftermath, it was as close as the Magic would get the rest of the game.

Thomas Jefferson (21-7) reeled off 12 unanswered points before Grace Niekelski stopped the bleeding converting a close-range shot.

But the damage was already done as Mount’s state run came to an end with a 55-41 loss at Chambersburg High School.

Led by Yale commit Jenna Clark’s 14 first-half points, the Jaguars took a 32-18 lead into the locker room at the break.

“We turned the ball over far too often,” Mount St. Joseph coach Jim Roynan said. “That team is too good to give them extra possessions. I thought we did a really good job getting back in transition, but we really talked about taking care of the basketball in the half-court. We just didn’t do that well enough.”

Keeping Clark, who averaged over 20 points a game this season, in check was a focus for the Magic coming into the game. But early foul trouble for Taylor Sistrunk put their best on-ball defender on the bench for much of the first half.

“The plan was to switch Lauren Vesey and Taylor back and forth on Jenna,” Roynan said. “When Taylor got in foul trouble that put all of the burden on Lauren to cover her for most of the game. It really tired her out. That’s a tough task to have her run the offense and then guard the other team’s best player.”

Mount St. Joseph played the Jaguars even in the second half, but the large deficit was too much to overcome as their season came to an end with a final record of 14-15.

Niekelski led the Mount with 16 points including a pair of three-pointers while Vesey tallied 15 in the defeat.

Thomas Jefferson had three double-digit scorers with Clark, Alyssa DeAngelo, and Graci Fairman.

“I’m hoping we carry this over,” Roynan said. “We made a really good run in districts. We started to play much closer to our potential. The girls started to get confidence in themselves and each other. If we can start there next year, we’ll be in a good spot.”

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