Clutch 3-pointer carries Central Valley girls past Knoch in overtime

Thursday, February 20, 2020 | 10:48 PM

Central Valley’s Allyson Kirby got the game’s biggest basket moments before fouling out Thursday night as the No. 2 Warriors held off an upset bid by No. 7 Knoch.

After getting the jump ball to start the overtime period at Fox Chapel High School, Central Valley held the ball for two minutes before Kirby stepped behind the foul circle and fired up just her team’s second 3-pointer of night.

Kirby fouled out moments later, but she had made her mark as the Warriors prevailed, 52-47.

Knoch had tied the game with 1:15 left in regulation on a 3-pointer by Abbey Shearer, her only basket of the night.

Neither team could get a good shot off in the final minute of the fourth period, setting up the extra session.

The Warriors (18-3) will now face undefeated Southmoreland in the semifinals Monday at a site and time to be determined. Central Valley, which made it to the finals last year before losing to North Catholic, secured a berth in the PIAA playoffs with the hard-fought victory.

Knoch is 17-7 overall after a bid to make the semifinals for the first time in school history. The Knights’ season is now in limbo. Knoch can garner a state playoff spot if Central Valley wins Monday.

Warriors coach Chris Raso didn’t necessarily want his team to hold the ball the entire overtime.

“We’re just looking for a good one,” Raso said. “This group, if you try to draw something up on the board, they play like robots. You kind of have to let them loose a little bit.”

After freshman Nina Shaw’s 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter gave Knoch its first lead, 34-33, since the opening minute of play, the lead changed hands three times in the next 70 seconds.

Central Valley led, 45-41, with 2 minutes, 8 seconds left in the fourth period. Nevaeh Ewing’s fifth 3-pointer of the game brought the Knight to within one.

A putback by Warriors senior Lauren Kostosky, her only basket of the game, put the Warriors ahead, 47-44, setting the stage for Shearer’s dramatic shot to tie the game.

“We were playing tough. We were playing confident,” said Knoch coach Chris Andreassi. “We just fell short.”

“They had all the momentum,” Raso said. “They play great defense. That’s half the equation.”

Knoch, in the playoffs for the 12th time, shot just 2 of 18 in the first quarter, but the Knights didn’t panic.

Said Andreassi: “We just told them we were getting great shots early in the game. We told them to keep doing what they’re doing, and the shots will start falling.”

Central Valley outrebounded Knoch, 45-27, and the Knights didn’t go to the foul line until the third quarter.

“When I scouted them the other night, they didn’t go to the boards that well,” Raso said. “Tonight, the stakes get a bit higher, people turn it up a few notches with the intensity. You have to limit their second shots.”

Alyssa Gillin scored 15 points and collected 13 rebounds. Kirby and Christiane Frye had 14 each.

Knoch was led by Ewing’s 15. Lauren Cihonski pulled down eight rebounds.

Central Valley has made the playoffs in eight of its 10 years of existence.

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game at Trib HSSN.

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