Knoch boys aiming high after breakthrough season

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | 4:19 PM


The Knoch boys basketball team had great expectations for themselves last season, and after only losing two seniors from a team that went 18-6 and captured a share of the Section 1-4A title, the Knights have set their sights even higher this season.

“We have some pretty high hopes to go pretty far this year, and a lot of the goals we set are pretty high,” senior guard Scott Fraser said. “We want to go to the Pete, we want to win the section and anything past that.”

Coach Ron McNabb returns several key players from a team that won 11 straight games at one point last year and lost to eventual WPIAL runner-up Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL tournament.

The Knights felt like they surprised a few teams last year after a 2017-18 season that ended with a record of 7-14.

They had a young roster and lacked the experience often needed to excel. But this year, with senior leaders like Scott Fraser, Brady McKee, Jared Schrecongost and Jake Scheidt, the Knights think that experience will pay off.

“We started four juniors and we played a bunch of good teams,” Scheidt said. “Now, we’re all experienced for this year to come. So last year definitely helped to get us ready for this year.”

With a mixture of size, length and speed, the Knights present a unique roster type that can push the ball in transition but also slow it down in half-court sets.

Last year, they averaged 63.5 points per game and only allowed 48.8. This year, those numbers could improve on both sides because of the valuable experience the team has gained over the past two years.

“We have the players here where we can play some up-tempo kind of basketball,” McNabb said. “But I think we still have the ability where we can grind it out, but we definitely want to open it up with these guys.”

Not only do the Knights have experience, but they also have a group of underclassmen that could give them valuable minutes this season.

Sophomore guard Ryan Lang is at the front of the line. As a freshman last year, he played a key role in the Knights’ success and McNabb said his role will expand even further this year.

Big man Zach McMillan will be another player McNabb will rely on for valuable minutes this season. The 6-foot-3 junior will provide a solid post presence for the Knights to go along with their speed and length.

But McNabb is always looking for improvement and in order to take that next step this season, he believes his team needs to shore up its skill sets in a few different areas.

“We have to rebound. We think Brady is good down low for us, but he needs help on the boards,” McNabb said. “We need our guards to rebound, and we need to get a little better with our man-to-man so we can hunker down in the half court and match up with other team’s physicality.”

Outside of the talent they bring, McNabb believes his team’s mentality will be crucial as well. During their 11-game win streak last season, McNabb said his players had a quiet confidence about them. He wants them to replicate that this season.

“Our expectations are just keeping playing as hard as you can every day,” McNabb said. “We want to stay positive, and we think good things can happen for us.”

The Knights start their season at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 against Youngstown Chaney (Ohio) at the Butler Tournament.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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