WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Incoming freshmen learning from college summer league

North Penn grad, Jess Huber, looks to shoot at a women’s NCAA summer basketball league on July 19, 2018. (Gene Walsh/MediaNews Group)

UPPER MORELAND — Shooters shoot but the really good shooters are the ones who thrive by doing it when no one is looking.

North Penn 2017 graduate Jess Huber has been lighting it up from long range this summer with her USciences teammates playing as part of the Philadelphia/Suburban Women’s College Summer League. A rising junior with the Devils, Huber credits it all to work in the gym.

Coming off a season where USciences announced itself as a top Division II program locally and national, for Huber the goal is still the same.

“When people say ‘get in the gym,’ that’s really it, you just get in the gym and shoot,” Huber said. “When it’s on, it’s just because the work I’m doing. It’s no magical potion or anything, you just have to get in the gym and work at it.”

USciences, or Team Maroon in the 10-team summer league, is the defending champion for the league which is in its 26th season. With the league’s regular season wrapping up on July 23, the USciences group is in prime position to lock up a first-round playoff bye.

Huber’s been a big reason for the squad’s success as her long-distance prowess has led to quite a few big nights offensively. This past Tuesday, she tied with rising sophomore Taylor Hamm (Perk Valley) for a team-high 26 points that included a 6-of-10 performance behind the arc.

She added a team-best 20 points in Thursday’s win including five 3-point makes. The former Knight owns a 27 and 23-point night this summer and in four games since the league resumed after the Fourth of July, she’s hit 18 threes.

“It helps with the chemistry we have, that’s just a fact,” Huber said. “I think any basketball player will say that, being with the same people, hanging out every day, you just play better.”

Last season, Huber appeared in 32 of the Devils’ 33 games but didn’t start once. She averaged 5.8 points per game, the fifth highest total on the team but third among returning players and shot 32 percent from behind the arc.

With the majority of last year’s core returning plus a few promising incoming freshmen and underclassmen poised for a larger role, USciences has the potential to build off last season’s second round NCAA tournament finish. Huber said he really doesn’t care what her role ends up being, she just wants to win and has been working to contribute more ways to do that.

“I’m trying to get quicker and always better on defense,” Huber said. “Everyone is quicker, the game moves faster. You have to be smarter and help people out and just understand everything moves quicker.”

There’s also a matter of continuity and fit. Huber loves USciences and as one of few teams in the league composed of players from just one college, they routinely show up with more than 10 players every night.

Huber, Irisa Ye and Mikaela Giuliani were teammates at North Penn, CB South alum Jordan Vitelli has been in their group of friends going back years and outside of the incoming freshmen, everyone on the team’s summer roster has been together for at least a season.

“My personal goal is always just to win, I want to win a championship and this team, we’re all on the same page with that,” Huber said. “We all support each other and have that goal to just win.”

Playing in the summer isn’t the same as a mid-winter CACC battle, but there’s plenty of value in this type of league. However it translates into next season, Huber’s still putting on quite a display from behind the 3-point line.

“Our offense just does a great job of setting up shooters, so I’m usually wide-open,” Huber said. “We have such great screen-setters on the team and no one is selfish, so we just want whoever is going to shoot to get a good shot.”

REMOLDE GETTING READY

Without knowing who she was, it’d be easy to mistake Casey Remolde as a player a few years into a college program.

The St. Basil Academy and incoming Kutztown freshman hasn’t played a minute of college hoops yet, but she’s put in a lot of time this summer into being ready if needed when the season starts. Remolde, who plays for the Royal Blue team in the summer league, is using the opportunity to take a few lessons with her.

“I have been working out a lot and trying to stay in shape because you never know what to expect,” Remolde, a two-time Class 3A all-state selection, said. “College is going to be a lot harder than high school, so I’ve been in the gym all summer trying to get stronger and keep my game sharp.”

Remolde, who admitted she’s been hitting the weights plenty, is playing with three future teammates this summer in Karen Lapkiewitz (St. Basil), Gabbi Wright (Cheltenham) and fellow incoming freshman Annie Whalen (Archbishop Wood). Lapkiewitz, a rising senior at Kutztown and Remolde never shared the court at St. Basil but Remolde said Lapkiewitz has been a huge help this summer.

Getting a chance to compete against some older college players has been a big help for the versatile Remolde, who filled a lot of roles as a captain for St. Basil’s 26-1 state playoff team this winter.

“I’ve definitely learned the pace is much faster compared to high school,” Remolde said. “Especially compared to my school team, where we’d set up an offense and maybe take too long to shoot sometimes. Here, it’s a lot more fast-break and fast paced, which I love.”

Thursday, Royal Blue’s opponent was short players, so they shared some subs and Remolde spent half the game with her usual summer league teammates and half the game playing against them. She didn’t block everyone else in the game, but the 5-foot-10 wing got pretty close.

Being able to block shots and rebound over bigger and stronger players without drawing a referee’s whistle this summer has been a confidence booster for Remolde. She’s also enjoyed the challenge of going up against that type of player and it’s something that’s driven her intense workouts all summer.

“It’s harder going to the basket, but I’m willing to work at it,” Remolde said. “I’m always someone who wants to try my best. I’m hoping I can maybe get some time, I’m just going to work hard and see where everything ends up but I’m definitely excited.”

Along with Remolde and Lapkiewitz, St. Basil is represented in the league by Jules Gura, a rising sophomore at USciences and Kaitlin Dougherty, a rising junior at Chestnut Hill College.

“It’s such a strong team aspect, everyone knows how to play with each other and nobody is selfish at Basil,” Remolde said. “We’re all there to pick each other up and I think it prepared me for playing in college.”

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