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Doyle, Fichera perfect together for Sacred Heart

LOWER MORELAND TWP. — They play summer ball together. They serve on student council together. So it’s not uncommon to see Kayleigh Doyle and Carina Fichera together.

Their give-and-go dynamic Friday night at Lower Moreland High School made for a game within the game. The duo helped Sacred Heart Academy dispatch Tacony Academy Charter, 51-25, in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament.

Doyle flirted with a quadruple-double, totaling 13 points, 12 steals, seven assists, and seven rebounds. She had the pass that led to four of six buckets by Fichera, who logged 13 points, nine rebounds, and four blocked shots.

Surprisingly, said coach Zach Shuler, Doyle’s 12 swipes don’t constitute a personal record. She had 13 in a regular-season game this year at Villa Joseph Marie.

“She kept us in that game and, as you can see, she does everything for us,” Shuler said. “She gets us in our sets. She gets everyone else going. She knows every play. She’s Ms. Do-It-All out there for us.”

Doyle, who plays at the top of Shuler’s 1-3-1 zone, contributed significantly to Sacred Heart, forcing 23 turnovers by Tacony Academy Charter (10-11), including seven in the third quarter. That frame was when the Lions outscored Tacony, 19-1, and pulled away for good.

In the third, Doyle found Fichera on a backdoor cut for an easy layup. Fichera coasted along the baseline without any opposition. The play was flawless. The two said they know each other’s’ tendencies.

“We get a lot of reps in summer camps and fall leagues. We have lots of classes together, too,” Doyle said.

“And we were friends even before our first game as freshmen. It shows,” Fichera said.

On two of the next three Tacony Academy Charter possessions, Doyle swiped passes that led to fast-break buckets at the other end. That 6-0 spurt in a span of 38 seconds helped Sacred Heart create even more space. If not for a free throw by Sierra McClure with 13 seconds left, Tacony would have gone the entire third quarter without scoring.

“Just a great game for all of us,” Doyle said. “There’s not much more to it.”

The Lions (8-16), who slugged their way through a rigorous Catholic Academies league schedule, have won four in a row at the right time of year. They advanced to the second round of the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season. History is not on their side.

Sacred Heart has never escaped the round of 16. Next Tuesday, the Lions will face District 11 champion Mahanoy Area (21-5). Shuler compared Mahanoy to St. Basil, the champion of the Catholic Academies league.

“We’ve faced that pressure before. We just have to execute against it,” Shuler said.

As for the mental block of getting past Round 2, Shuler said youth is on his team’s side.

“We have four new starters this year,” he said. “It’s a fresh slate.”

Added Doyle: “Carina, Amanda (Heilmann) and I know how far we’ve gotten, but we have to go into this with an open mind and not let them think this game is any different for us.”

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