Freeport girls use 2nd-half surge to top rival Knoch in Section 1-4A game
By: Michael Love
Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 11:12 PM
Round 1 in the season rivalry series between the Knoch and Freeport girls basketball teams goes to the Yellowjackets.
Breaking open a close game at halftime, Freeport built a double-digit advantage in the third and went on to claim a 47-39 victory in a battle for sole possession of second place in Section 1-4A Thursday evening at Knoch High School.
“It was the biggest game of the season because we were able to grab second place all to ourselves, and we were able to beat our rival,” Freeport junior Harley Holloway said. “We know we’ll see them again, and I’m sure they will be ready for us.”
Freeport improved to 9-2 overall and 5-1 in the section with its first-cycle finale against Indiana set for Monday.
“We were able to catch fire in the second half,” said Freeport coach Fred Soilis, who watched his team outscore Knoch, 17-9, in the third to take a 39-29 lead into the final quarter.
“I told them (at halftime), ‘Hey, you have 16 minutes left to give it all you’ve got.’ We had some silly turnovers and forced the ball a little more than I wanted them to, but the ‘W’ is what counts.”
Knoch (6-6, 4-2) wraps up the first half of section play Monday at Class 4A No. 1 North Catholic (10-1, 6-0).
“I thought you saw some pretty good energy from our girls tonight,” Knoch coach Chris Andreassi said. “This is the biggest game those girls have ever played. This is a new team. It’s the first time these girls have played varsity basketball together. It’s a process, and they need to enjoy and embrace the process.
“And part of it is learning how to play in big games. They showed up and did pretty well. Now, they got that experience, and that’s only going to help more as we hit the second half of the season and the playoff run.”
Freeport was balanced offensively. Sidney Shemanski scored 12 points to lead the way, and Samantha Clark added 10.
Madeline Clark and Holloway each scored nine points. Fellow starter Haley Graham contributed six points to the winning effort.
“When everyone is scoring, and everyone works together, it often adds up to good things when it matters the most,” Holloway said.
Nevaeh Ewing, who continues to battle back from a right wrist injury suffered a month ago, led Knoch with nine points. Madilyn Boyer and Lauren Cihonski each added eight.
Jaylee Lassinger and Skye Burkett hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Knoch to within six, 41-35, with 3:47 left in regulation. That was as close as the Knights would get the rest of the way. Shemanski and Graham each produced buckets for Freeport in the game’s waning minutes, while Holloway and Madeline Clark each added a free throw.
The teams combined to hit 11 3-pointers. The Yellowjackets had six, while the Knights drained five from beyond the arc.
It looked as if Freeport might pull away early. The Yellowjackets built leads of 8-2 midway through the first quarter and 13-5 at the end of the frame, forcing eight Knoch turnovers in the process.
“Overall, our press caused them some problems and slowed them down,” Soilis said.
But the Knights didn’t go away and used a 9-0 run to open the second quarter and take a 14-13 lead.
Ewing delivered a 3-pointer at the 3:57 mark to give Knoch its first advantage of the game. The possession came off of Freeport’s fourth turnover of the quarter.
The Knights built a 20-16 lead with a little more than a minute left in the first half, but the Yellowjackets scored six straight to head into the locker room ahead 22-20.
Madeline Clark pulled Freeport to within one on a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left, and then Samantha Clark closed the first-half scoring for Freeport with a 3 at the buzzer.
“That last 3-pointer by Samantha was big for us,” said Soilis, who credited Knoch for fighting back and turning the tables on his team in the second quarter.
Knoch finished the game with 20 turnovers, while Freeport turned the ball over 16 times.
The teams meet again Feb. 4.
“Overall, I’m pleased with where we are,” Soilis said. “The opportunity is still there to get the section, tie the section or get a first-round bye. Those are two of our goals.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-388-5825, email@example.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.