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SUPER SOPHS: Taylor, Fritch Come Alive in Third Quarter to Help Karns City Sprint Away From Keystone

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Points were hard to come by. Fouls piled up quickly. There was no flow. No consistency.

Both the Karns City and Keystone girls basketball teams slogged through a sloppy first half with the Gremlins clinging to a 20-18 lead at the break.

Things certainly changed for Karns City in the second half.

(Pictured above, Karns City sophomores Brooklynn Taylor, left, and Chloe Fritch)

Brooklynn Taylor got hot. So did Chloe Fritch. The two sophomore guards for the Gremlins combined for 18 of their team’s 21 points in the third quarter as Karns City stormed ahead on the way to a 53-32 home win over the Panthers on Tuesday night.

“In the locker room, we knew we were going to put it together eventually,” said Taylor, who finished with a game-high 20 points. “We just had to clean up our defense and just finish on the offensive end.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Neither really happened in the first half. Karns City’s defense did hold Keystone to just 18 points, but key players — like Taylor — found themselves in foul trouble.

Shots also weren’t falling for either team.

“We were in our own heads,” said Fritch, who put up 14 points in the victory. “That’s not the way you want it. It just took a little bit, but we eventually got it and we were who we are.”

Who Fritch is is relentless.

The guard stepped into passing lanes, pilfered the ball from Keystone guards and ended up with 12 steals for an unusual double-double.

“Chloe is a ballhawk,” said Karns City coach Steve Andreassi. “Brooklynn is a ballhawk. They just have a knack for knowing when to cheat a little bit and make that steal.”

Fritch rarely came off the court. She did foul out, but by that point the game was well in hand.

“I never get tired,” Fritch said, smiling. “I just keep going because I know that they need me on the court. I fight like heck to get steals and get rebounds.”

Taylor sat most of the second quarter in foul trouble.

She more than made up for it in the third, sparking a 14-0 run with seven quick points to send the Gremlins on their way.

“My fouls are a problem,” Taylor said, grinning. “I didn’t play the whole second quarter. It kills me just having to watch and not be out there.”

At the half, Andreassi had a simple message for his team. He scrawled it on the whiteboard.

Do. Your. Job.

His team took it to heart.

“We had people straying away from what their responsibility is on both ends of the floor,” he said. “Do your job means you finish layups. Do your job means staying disciplined on your rotations. Do your job means boxing out. And we did that very inconsistently in every quarter this year but the third quarter tonight.

It’s going to be a work in progress,” Andreassi added. “You look at our lineup, we’re still relatively young. We’re getting great leadership from (seniors) Emma Dailey and Jordan Macurak.

Dailey pitched in 12 points for Karns City (1-2, 1-0).

She was also tasked with helping contain Keystone’s 6-foot senior Natalie Bowser in the paint.

Karns City paid close attention to Bowser, who averaged a double-double last season. She was in foul trouble much of the night and finished with four points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in limited action.

Ava Patrick paced the Panthers with 10 points.

Keystone (0-3, 0-1) is battling the injury bug already. Bowser is dealing with some nagging injuries. Senior forward Sydney Bell is out with a broken foot and Mia Traiser is also playing hurt.

“We’re really banged up right now,” said Keystone coach Andy Traister. “(Natalie and Mia) actually just got cleared before this game. We haven’t had a lot of practice.”

That showed and Keystone struggled with turnovers and fouls.

The Panthers tried to pressure Karns City, but the Gremlins eventually broke it — and broke the game open in the second half in the process.

“We fell apart then,” Coach Traister said. “We didn’t get the easy steals and baskets that we wanted. Then we just got rattled.”

For Karns City, it was a good step forward early in the season, especially for its young, emerging stars.

“Brooklynn took over the game in the second half,” Andreassi said. “Every good basketball team needs their players to take that next step and they certainly have. We’re in an upward trend with everybody.

“The best part about our team in these first few weeks is everybody has the same mission,” he added. “Everybody has the same mission. All as one — that’s kind of our motto — and everybody is rooting for each other. Our bench has been going crazy. And everyone likes each other.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.