Keziah Brantley a natural fit with Berks Catholic, helps Saints top Schuylkill Valley in Berks girls basketball quarters

Jason Guarente, Reading Eagle, Pa.
·3 min read

Feb. 24—It's easy to take for granted how effortless Keziah Brantley made it look.

Berks Catholic's sophomore joined a new team with an established core and high expectations. Fitting in seamlessly was no sure thing.

That's what Brantley did. She became an instant starter. A part of that core.

Brantley scored 16 points to help No. 2 Berks Catholic knock off No. 7 Schuylkill Valley 66-31 in the BCIAA girls basketball quarterfinals at Wolf Gymnasium Tuesday night.

Berks Catholic will take on No. 3 Twin Valley, which defeated sixth-seeded Fleetwood 53-30 Tuesday, at home in the semifinals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Brantley, a transfer from Emmaus, has given the Saints a third double-digit scorer to pair with Caraline Herb and Caroline Reedy. No other team in the league has such a trio.

"It was an adjustment but it wasn't too big of an adjustment," Brantley said. "I felt like we all played together well right away. You can tell the team likes playing with new people."

Berks Catholic coach Bob Birmingham first saw Brantley on video when he learned she was joining the Saints. Then he saw her at open gyms.

Brantley was an exciting addition for a few reasons. One was obvious. The other less so.

"The first thing was she can shoot the ball," Birmingham said. "She's got nice form. She gets square and balanced. I really liked the aggressiveness she had at the defensive end. That stood out to me more."

Brantley introduced herself to the county when she dropped in 20 points in her Berks Catholic debut in December. It was foreshadowing.

The 5-6 guard has reached double figures in 12 of her team's 20 games. She has made 19 3-pointers. She can score in a variety of ways.

"Sometimes my shots don't fall and I lose confidence," Brantley said. "Once I start getting to the basket and finish at the rim, it gives me confidence to move out and shoot."

Berks Catholic is one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing an average of 32 points against a tough schedule. The Saints also have a higher gear on offense.

Much of that can be traced to Herb, who sometimes piles up points at a dizzying clip. The sophomore scored 25 against Schuylkill Valley, including 13 in the span of 3:31.

Herb drilled five 3-pointers, giving her a league-leading 54. No one else is close.

"Once she shoots a 3 we all know it's going in," Brantley said. "That's Caraline Herb. That's what she does."

Berks Catholic used a 17-0 run to start the third quarter to expand a 19-point halftime lead and invoke the mercy rule.

The Saints tightened the screws defensively and were off to the races.

"If we can get some steals, push it down the floor and they're finding each other, we can put them up quick," Birmingham said. "It all starts at the defensive end."

Berks Catholic has a chance to capture another county championship with only one senior in the starting lineup. Two of the Saints' top players are sophomores.

The present and future are bright. Brantley is an important part of both.

"I thought Ky had a very nice game," Birmingham said. "She has matured as a player as her sophomore goes farther and farther. That's nice to see."