Missy Dougherty (@missyingyou)
William Penn Charter head girls’ basketball coach Joe Maguire says that freshman Kaylinn Bethea makes at least one play a game where he says to himself, “oh, wow!”
There were a lot of “wow” moments to go around on Sunday as Bethea scored a game-high 20 points to help Penn Charter run past West Catholic Prep, 60-30, in the opening game of The Queens Take Over King Weekend showcase event at the Wells Fargo Center.
Freshman Kaylinn Bethea (above) has had an impressive first campaign at the varsity level. (Photo: Missy Dougherty/CoBL)
Showing an array of all-around talent, Bethea dazzled on both ends of the court. The freshman’s standout defense was on full display as she locked down the Burrs to the tune of seven steals on the day which led to numerous buckets in transition throughout the contest. Bethea's team-high 11 points helped the Quakers jump out to a 36-17 lead at the break as she seemed to provide a highlight reel play every time she touched the ball, with scoop shots and 3-pointers alike.
“Defense is my comfort zone,” Bethea said. “I always rely on that energy to help me compete and play well for myself and the team. I go into every game with the mindset of believing that I am fully prepared, and as long as I give my best effort things will fall in place.”
It is easy to see that Bethea has made a major impact in a short time, and helped things fall into place with the Penn Charter lineup.
“Freshman year has been exciting,” Bethea said. “I love Penn Charter for more than just basketball. Playing field hockey for my first time ever helped me become acclimated and comfortable in the community. Basketball season was always on my mind and it came quickly. But now that the season has started it’s exciting that we have a balanced team with young and older players.”
“Knowing some of my teammates prior to school starting and meeting the rest of my teammates in workouts helped me feel at home,” she continued. “We have enjoyed the opportunity to build our chemistry off the court, throughout the season, through team bonding like rock climbing, spike ball, and eating Duck Donuts. These experiences will translate to how we play together on the court.”
“Kaylinn is a competitor and the older girls on our team are doing a great job with helping her prepare,” Maguire said. “Aleah Snead, Maddie Shoup, and Bella Toomey are pushing her in practice. Kaylinn is a student of the game and is doing a great job contributing to our team in any way she can. I think that’s the message from our leaders. Do what you can to help the team win.”
Bethea heard the message loud and clear on Sunday as the 5-9 combo guard added five assists and four rebounds on a memorable day for the Penn Charter program, as it took the floor of the hometown team.
“As soon as I was approached about playing at the Wells Fargo Center, I immediately accepted,” Maguire said. “I want to provide experiences for the girls. Whether that is traveling to Arizona, which we did three years ago, New York, Virginia, etc. For me, it’s about creating memories that will last a lifetime.”
Bethea, and the Quakers, embraced the opportunity to create a memory on Sunday. “The experience of playing at the Wells Fargo was exciting,” Bethea said. “I have been to games there before to watch the Sixers with my family. The feel of a court and arena that size was overwhelming at first, but then I just tried to focus on playing the game.”
Bethea was far from a one-girl show as Toomey, a 6-0 junior, also reached double figures with 10 points to go along with eight rebounds, four blocks, and three assists, while Snead filled the stat sheet with five points, five assists, four steals, and seven rebounds. Ten players reached the scoring column in all for Penn Charter as Maguire subbed freely to get as many players as possible a chance to make a memory.
The sister act of Layla and Amina Reid led the Burrs, the defending PIAA 3A state champions, with 12 and 8 points, respectively. Layla added five rebounds and two steals.
Burrs head coach Messiah Reames expressed gratitude for being included in the showcase event. “It’s a tribute to what we are building as a program at West Catholic,” Reames said. Echoing the thoughts of Maguire, Reames added, “this kind of experience will give the girls memories they can carry with them for a lifetime.”
West Catholic did not hesitate to give tribute to the performance by Penn Charter which moved to 9-2 on the season with the victory. “They are a solid team that gave us a good test and showed us that we have to keep working for where we aspire to be,” said Reames.
The Wells Fargo Center is a place that has been synonymous with the “building process” over the last couple of years as the home team has risen in the NBA standings. Reames is one who fully appreciates that idea of building as the first-year coach seeks to restore the Burrs program that was decimated by last spring’s graduation.
“We have stripped the house down to the studs,” explained Reames. “We didn’t paint yet, and we haven’t added furniture. We have to keep grinding.”
While the Burrs continue to grind, Bethea, and the Quakers, remain focused on their ultimate goal of a league championship which Penn Charter girls last claimed in 1998. “The opening of the Graham Wellness and Athletic Center on campus has brought a lot of positive energy to the school, and especially for the girls’ and boys’ basketball programs,” Bethea said. “With the support of our great coaching staff, we will continue to strive for our goal to win the Inter-Academic League."
Penn Charter: 18 | 18 | 11 | 13 || 60
West Catholic: 10 | 7 | 6 | 7 || 30
Penn Charter: Kaylinn Bethea 20, Bella Toomey 10, Gracie Shoup 6, Aleah Snead 5, Ashlie Johnson 5, Liv Vieira 4, Amani Rivers 4, Kayla Bradby 2, Maddie Shoup 2, Grace Walter 2
West Catholic: Layla Reid 12, Amina Reid 8, Samantha Brown 3, Ebonee Kent 3, Jasmine Murillo 2, Layla Thompson