A-K Valley girls basketball notebook: Knoch, Freeport set for key section game

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020 | 8:04 PM


The Knoch and Freeport girls basketball teams took care of business in their respective Section 1-4A games Monday evening.

Now, the rival Knights and Yellowjackets will clash for the first time this season with a lot on the line in the first cycle of section play. Thursday’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Freeport Middle School.

Knoch comes into the game 5-0 in section play, and it opened the new year with section wins over Burrell and Apollo-Ridge by an average of 24.5 points.

The Knights defeated the Bucs on Monday, 61-35, behind a trio of double-figure scorers: senior Lauren Cihonski (15), junior Nevaeh Ewing (12) and senior Madilyn Boyer (10).

Freeport, which swept Knoch last season en route to a 12-2 section record, bounced back from last Thursday’s section loss to Class 4A No. 1 North Catholic (8-3, 5-0) with a 59-26 victory over Apollo-Ridge on Monday. Senior Sidney Shemanski led Freeport (6-4, 4-1), with 16 points.

Freshman Melaina Dezort continued her strong season with 14 points against the Vikings.

Winless no more

St. Joseph entered the new year as the only winless Alle-Kiski Valley girls basketball team.

The youthful Spartans, shorthanded in terms of roster numbers, had come close a couple of times in December, including a three-point loss to Highlands on Dec. 7.

But the St. Joseph players came together Jan. 2 and outlasted Propel Andrew Street, 42-39, in overtime in a Section 3-A game sophomore Trinity Lockwood-Morris called “intense.”

Ally Swierczewski added 10 points in the victory.

“The girls were very excited about the win,” coach Dennis Jones said. “The girls struggle at times because of our youth and inexperience, and with that, our schedule is challenging. We have to start getting more consistent in games. We’re getting better each game. It’s just little things.”

The Spartans, 1-2 in section play and 1-10 overall, return to section action Thursday at Greensburg Central Catholic (6-2, 3-0) before hosting Leechburg (1-8, 0-3) on Monday.

Staying in contention

The Riverview girls basketball team is seeking its third straight trip to the WPIAL playoffs and 10th appearance in the past 11 seasons.

The Raiders, 1-3 in Section 2-2A and 6-6 overall, travel to Brentwood (3-8, 2-3) on Thursday for a game coach Keith Stitt said will go a long way in making a statement in the playoff race.

“We have been playing better basketball as of late,” Stitt said. “It, hopefully, will show over the next couple of weeks as we get into the section hot and heavy. Hopefully, we can make some noise. I like our chances.”

Riverview has won its past two games: 52-45 over Burrell last Friday and 43-22 over St. Joseph on Tuesday. Senior Sydney McDonough led the way for the Raiders against Burrell with 24 points, and she added a team-best 12 against St. Joseph.

Stitt said he hopes junior guard Eleni Wyrick, who suffered a knee injury before Christmas, can return soon.

The Raiders close the first half of section play Monday at home against Springdale.

Climbing back

As Freeport and Knoch battle Thursday at the top of the Section 1-4A standings, Apollo-Ridge travels to Highlands hoping to gain momentum in the chase for a third straight playoff appearance.

The Vikings, anchored by a quartet of starters from last season, are looking to turn around a 1-4 start in section play. That includes losses to Freeport (59-26) and Knoch (58-35) in the new year.

“The girls are still positive. They’re working hard and looking to keep it together,” first-year coach Mike Monstrola said. “We’re working to get better and make up some ground on the ground we’ve lost so far. We’ve run into some tough teams. There are still a lot of games left.”

Junior Morgan Gamble and senior Rylee Eaton have fronted the team’s offense.

“We’re going to fight like never before to get back into it,” Monstrola said. “I want to do what I can to get the girls in the best position to get some wins.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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