St. John the Baptist guard Kayla Hill played her final varsity game Friday, capping a career in which her playing ability perhaps was matched only by the leadership she provided for her young team.
Gianna Locker scored 12 points, Janine Conway 11 and Hill 10 as St. John the Baptist fell to visiting Moore Catholic, 62-44, in the first round of the CHSAA Class A girls basketball state tournament.
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Moore Catholic's 6-5 senior center, Dina Motrechuk, who will play for Rhode Island next season, according to coach Mikayla Uskas, scored 17 points.
St. John the Baptist (9-12) was undone in the second half when it was outscored 35-19. Moore Catholic (18-10) took a 27-25 lead into halftime before starting the third quarter on a 20-5 run.
The ending was bittersweet, but Hill said it did not diminish her team's performance in her send-off season.
"Just to look around and see all the work we did, it's amazing," said Hill, the team's only senior. "The freshmen, sophomores and juniors all stepped up to the plate and it really made my senior year special."
"She's awe-inspiring," first-year St. John the Baptist coach Kate Gordon said of Hill, who will play for Dowling next season. "Humble but competitive, she's brave, and always has your back."
"She's a great teammate," sophomore forward Bridgette Moran added. "She helped us be more confident and always knows how to pick us up when we're down, like a big sister."
Hill scored nine first-half points to keep St. John the Baptist in the game early, but with Montrechuk's post presence and shooting guard Breana Connor (who also had 17 points) spacing the floor, Moore Catholic pulled away.
"We played great in the first half, and we kind of ran out of steam a little bit," Gordon said. "Their size and [our] foul trouble hurt us down the stretch."
"It was disappointing, but we're happy with what we did this season," said Locker, a junior guard. "We came together as a team."
"No one thought we were going to get anywhere [before the season],'' Gordon said. "We were very young, had no size, everything was going against us. I'm very proud of what we did this year."
"The part I'm going to miss the most is the family aspect of St. John the Baptist," Hill said. "This is my home."