Berks Catholic season ends with loss to Lake-Lehman in first round of PIAA Women’s Basketball Playoffs


Unable to overcome a substantial size disadvantage, Berks Catholic’s season ended Thursday night.

The Saints fell victim to the imposing size of Lake-Lehman, as the Knights relied on a stellar rebound and dominant interior defense to claim a 39-37 victory in the first round of the class women’s basketball playoffs. 4A from the PIAA at the Wolf Gymnasium.

“It’s heartbreaking for these kids,” Berks Catholic coach Bob Birmingham said. “This is the last time (the seniors) are going to play on this pitch.”

At 6-1, Lake-Lehman senior Hailey Kline scored what turned out to be the game-winning basket with just under two minutes remaining. Kline, one of four Knights who are 5-10 or higher, led all scorers with 13 points.

The Saints had two possessions after Kline’s basket, but went empty each time. A potential season-winning, season-saving 3-point attempt from junior Caraline Herb with less than 20 seconds left was out of the question.

“That last shot was a great shot from Caraline,” Birmingham said. “He got off halfway and came back out.”

Berks Catholic struggled in the stretch, making no field goals and a free throw in the final six minutes of play. Lake-Lehman outscored the Saints 8-5 in the fourth quarter.

“We play our best when we get shots inside and move fast,” Berks Catholic senior Mackenzie Gordos said. “They didn’t really allow us to fully press (inside) like we normally do.”

The Knights shielded the paint with the back end of their stifling zone defense, forcing Berks Catholic to fire from the outside. Six of the Saints’ 14 field goals came from beyond the arc.

“Our shots were falling in the third (quarter) and not the fourth (quarter),” Gordos said. “It came down to their height versus our shots not falling.”

Berks Catholic had a chance to win in the final minute of the game thanks in large part to their third-quarter efforts. Trailing by seven points at the end of the first half, the Saints quickly got back into contention.

Behind fast ball movement, Berks Catholic sank several outside shots to start the third quarter with a 9-0 run. The Saints outscored the Knights 13-5 in the third and entered the fourth quarter with a 32-31 lead.

“We knew we could come back,” senior Caroline Reedy said. “We just had to finish our shots.”

Reedy led Berks Catholic with six points in the third quarter and 11 overall. The performance marked his 21st game with at least 10 points this season.

The first quarter between the two teams was largely even. Both teams played tight defense and the score was 8-8 after one.

The Saints were trailed on both sides of the ball by senior Aayilah Dabney, who was solid defensively and scored six points in the first quarter. She finished with 10 points.

District 2 third-placed Lake-Lehman (19-4) started the second quarter with a 10-2 run, relying on points in the paint and second-chance points to build their lead. The Knights played solid zone defense, preventing Berks Catholic from heading for the basket.

“I think their guards did a good job of rebounding for them,” Birmingham said. “That’s what hurt us.”

District 3 runner-up Berks Catholic (21-7) made several outside shots late in the second quarter to keep him within reach. Lake-Lehman outscored the Saints 18-11 in the second quarter and led 26-19 at halftime.

“It was really hard to drive (to the basket),” Dabney said. “I just tried to shoot the foul every time I went up.”

The loss marked the final high school game in the careers of Berks Catholic’s five seniors: Gordos, Reedy, Dabney, Abigail Schnatz and Brooklyn Hmel. According to Birmingham, this season’s senior class stand out from those of the past with their love for each other.

“They were just phenomenal leaders and role models for younger people,” Birmingham said. “I’ve had great groups of seniors, (but) I don’t know if I’ve had a group that got along as (well) collectively as this group.”


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