A-K Valley girls basketball notes: Knoch girls count on Lauren Cihonski at crunch time

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 | 4:42 PM

Lauren Cihonski knew the feeling of producing clutch points to clinch a victory for the Knoch girls basketball team.

Two free throws from the Knights senior with less than two seconds remaining in a December Section 1-4A game at Indiana lifted the Knights to a 39-37 win.

On Monday against rival Freeport, Cihonski again had the ball in her hands with a chance to put her team in the win column.

She delivered on her opportunity. With 10 seconds left and Knoch trailing by one, sophomore Madilyn Boyer started a passing chain that included freshman Nina Shaw and senior Abbey Shearer.

Cihonski got the ball from Shearer in the paint and put up a shot off the glass and in for the game-winner.

She said after the game that it was her and her team’s mission to take down their rivals and that it was a great feeling to do it after several close battles the past couple of seasons.

The win snapped Knoch’s five-game losing streak to Freeport dating to 2016-17. The Knights lost 53-39 to the Yellowjackets on Jan. 9.

The victory also put them alone in second place in the section at 11-2.

Knoch can wrap up second place outright with an upset win Thursday against Class 4A No. 1 North Catholic (19-1, 13-0) or a loss by Freeport (14-6, 10-3) to playoff-bound Indiana (13-8, 7-6).

Grand accomplishment

Freeport senior Harley Holloway stepped to the foul line in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 59-54 victory over Fox Chapel needing just two points to reach 1,000 for her varsity career.

She sank both shots, eliciting a celebratory response from teammates and the Yellowjackets faithful.

“I had a good feeling about the first one, but then I got really nervous with the second one and started shaking a little bit,” said Holloway, who entered the game needing 11 points. She finished the game with that amount.

“When I made (the second one), I was just so happy. This was a goal of mine since my freshman year, but my main focus all four years has been to do my best each time and help my team win games.”

Senior teammate Sidney Shemanski scored five points against Fox Chapel and stands just seven shy of 1,000 for her standout career. Freeport hosts Indiana on Thursday.

It’s been a year of 1,000-point scorers in the Alle-Kiski Valley. On the boys side, Springdale junior Dmitri Fritch and Leechburg senior Jake Blumer reached the milestone Tuesday, and Highlands seniors Luke Cochran and Johnny Crise and St. Joseph junior Andrew Sullivan did it earlier this season.

Plum junior Kennedie Montue reached 1,000 points in her game at Franklin Regional on Jan. 16.

That’s a wrap

Riverview controlled its own destiny to secure a WPIAL Class 2A playoff spot as it hosted Brentwood on Monday.

After honoring six seniors, the Raiders (12-8, 5-5) delivered at both ends of the court for a postseason-clinching 58-34 win.

Seniors Francesca Lio (17), Sydney McDonough (13) and Annie Betler (10) each scored in double figures as Riverview controlled the boards and forced 25 Spartans turnovers.

Brentwood (6-13, 5-7) was eliminated from playoff contention.

The Raiders hope to close the regular season with momentum as they travel to Springdale (2-17, 0-11) on Thursday and host Ellis (14-5, 8-2) on Saturday.

“It’s a little more relaxed going into these last two games, but we still want to be playing our best basketball going into the playoffs,” Riverview coach Keith Stitt said.

Closing time

It seems like just yesterday tip-off tournaments ushered in the 2019-20 basketball season.

But over the next couple of days, the regular season will come to a close as the playoffs are on the horizon.

Deer Lakes visits Shady Side Academy on Thursday in its Section 3-3A finale. The Lancers (11-8, 8-5) are 1-3 in their last four section games but have suffered competitive section losses over the past two weeks to playoff-bound Carlynton (11-2), Derry (10-3) and East Allegheny (9-4).

Fox Chapel (12-8, 7-6 Section 1-6A) closes out section play Friday at home against Norwin (16-4, 12-1). The Foxes on Monday suffered a 51-47 loss to section rival Seneca Valley (14-6, 8-5) in a battle for third place.

Plum and Gateway, tied for the Section 2-5A lead at 9-2, will do battle at 6 p.m. Friday with the outright title on the line.

The Mustangs have never won a section title, but they came close in 2013, finishing one game back of section co-champions Fox Chapel and Gateway.

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

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