NORTH HUNTINGDON TWP., Pa. – Bishop McCort is going to be seeing No. 52 in black in its nightmares.
Layke Fields, Kennedy Catholic’s 6-foot sophomore center, did pretty much whatever she wanted in leading the D10 champion Golden Eagles back to the PIAA semifinals with a not-as-close as it looks 60-48 win over the District 6 third-place finisher Friday night at Norwin High School.
Fields had 30 points and 12 rebounds and pretty much scored at will inside.
“The nice thing about Layke is single (team), double (team) she can still finish,” Kennedy Catholic head coach Justin Magestro said. “They weren’t doubling down on her today, and I think our guards just did a phenomenal job of making entry passes. They feel really comfortable when she touches the ball, When you have a kid who can score and you know they have good hands, you give her the ball.”
Fields showed her dominance early scoring the first four points of the game, as Kennedy Catholic started the game on a 9-0 run that quickly grew to 17-2 with Fields scoring eight of those points.
“Our coach told us to come out with high energy from the start,” Fields said. “Our last five games, we haven’t been coming out with high energy. He told us we needed to pick it up, and that is what we did.”
Bishop McCort, which started the game 1-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-5 from behind the arc, was finally able to hit some shots in the second quarter to get back in the game.
Three-pointers from Kalina Bailey, Elle Berkebile, and Gianna Gallucci, helped get the Crushers back within nine, 30-21, at halftime after they trailed 19-6 at the end of the first quarter.
But Kennedy Catholic turned right back to Fields at the start of the second half, and the center produced 10 of the 12 points during a 12-6 spurt to open the second half.
“It feels good,” Fields said. “My guards made great passes to me, and I know I can just go up and finish.”
Watch Fields score a third-quarter basket
Thanks in large part to Fields, the Golden Eagles got the lead to 17, 47-30, by the end of the third quarter and then used a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter to build the lead to 23, 56-33, on back-to-back baskets by Isabella Bianco.
Monique Vincent had a 3-pointer during the run as well, one of three she made on the night on her way to 12 points.
“(Those threes) are huge,” Magestro said. “We said if our guards can make some shots, they couldn’t zone us up. And if they manned us up, they wouldn’t be able to double down on Layke. Monique hit a couple of huge threes early. I thought Izzy (Bianco) got downhill a couple of nice times.”
Watch Vincent score the first two points of an old-school 3-point play in the third quarter
Up comfortably, Kennedy Catholic allowed Bishop McCort to make things a little closer at the end with some turnovers down the stretch.
Turnovers were the one area the Golden Eagles didn’t excel at in the game with 23 including nine in the fourth quarter.
“I just think it was two things,” Magestro said. “It was just poor decisions, and sometimes trying to do too much. We talk about making the easy play, and I think sometimes they try to make the hard play. They try to make the hard play because they want to feed their teammates. I think we just need to work on making better decisions and understanding that if it is not open, the first set, whether it is a quick hitter or whatever, we just bring it back out and run it again. I think a couple of times we got away with it and we settled too much too early in our sets.”
Bianco added 10 points in the win with Bella Magestro scoring six.
Gallucci had 20 points for Bishop McCort with Cameron Beppler adding 17.
But Kennedy Catholic held Bria Bair, who had over 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds to one point and four rebounds.
Magestro credited Cassie Dancak for that. Dancak only scored two points but she added eight rebounds.
“Cassie does a lot of little things that nobody sees,” Magestro said. “She doesn’t put up a lot of numbers and stuff like that But she does so many good things defensively, rebounding. We put her on (Bair). She did a phenomenal job. She is one of these kids who doesn’t need a lot of credit in the paper She loves this team And she does little things – those aren’t little things those are big things She does the things that don’t get a lot of recognition by people who don’t know the game of basketball.”
Kennedy Catholic, which finished as the 1A runner-up a year ago, is in the semifinals for the second straight season after not having gone to the semifinals since 2005.
“It means a lot,” Fields said. “With our loss last year (in the championship game), we are trying to get the win this year in 2A for the state championship.”
Watch Fields’ full postgame interview
KENNEDY CATHOLIC 60, BISHOP MCCORT 48
Score by Quarters
Kennedy Catholic 19 11 17 13 – 60
Bishop McCort 6 15 9 18 – 48
KENNEDY CATHOLIC – 60
Monique Vincent 4 1-1 12, Bella Magestro 3 0-0 6, Isabella Bianco 4 2-2 10, Hayden Keith 0 0-0 0, Cassie Dancak 1 0-0 2, Layke Fields 15 0-5 30. Totals 27 3-8 60.
BISHOP MCCORT – 48
Gianna Gallucci 8 2-4 20, Emma Preuss 0 0-0 0, Ava Zucco 1 0-0 2, Bria Bair 0 1-2 1, Cameron Beppler 7 0-0 17, Sarah Kibler 0 0-0 0, Elle Berkebile 1 0-0 3, Kalina Bailey 2 0-0 5. Totals 19 3-6 48.
Three-pointers: Kennedy Catholic 3 (Vincent 3). Bishop McCort 7 (Beppler 3, Gallucci 2, Berebile, Bailey).