Knoch boys basketball staying focused down stretch run

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Thursday, February 6, 2020 | 5:56 PM


On Jan. 28, the No. 2 Knoch Knights dropped a Section 1-4A contest to No. 1 Highlands, losing just their second game of the season.

It was a tough back-and-forth battle between two of the top teams in the classification and it determined that the two teams would split the section title for the second straight year. Up until that point, the Knights (18-2, 9-1) had been on fire all season long.

They were on a 16-game winning streak, had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the WPIAL and their only loss of the season had come against a team from Ohio. But, at this point, the Knights aren’t going to allow a loss to a top five team define their season.

“The loss to Highlands was hard. It was really hard,” senior guard Jake Scheidt said. “We wanted to go out and get that section title for ourselves. But it’s just made us work even harder in practice and kind of want to meet them again later in the season.”

Since that night, the Knights have put together two straight wins where they’ve scored 90-plus points.

In both games, against Derry and Freeport, the Knights had at least four players score in double digits. Against the Trojans, five players cracked the 10-point mark, including senior guard Adam Bajuszik, who came off the bench to score 13.

Because of their latest scoring output, the Knights now have the highest-scoring offense in Class 4A at 75.7 points per game, which is also the third-highest in the WPIAL behind North Catholic (78.6) and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (77.2).

“We always knew we could be (offensively potent),” senior guard Jared Schrecengost said. “Just seeing it on the scoreboard is shocking though. We just need our defense to show up because we know our offense will be there every night. A good shooting day or not, we know we can score.”

For the majority of this season, the Knights have gotten production from their five starters, Scheidt, Schrecengost, Scott Fraser, Ryan Lang and Brady McKee. But as of late, the Knights have started to get production from players like Bajuszik and junior Zach McMillen. Even sophomore Keagan Fraser is starting to come into his own after playing a prominent role on the junior varsity team.

Coach Ron McNabb believes having that type of depth will be crucial for the Knights as they try to make their run in the playoffs.

“Those guys are gonna be big for us down the stretch, and they are getting better every day,” McNabb said. “We think that there are gonna be times where they are gonna have to come in and help us.”

In a cluttered classification that includes several teams vying for the No. 1 spot in Section 2, along with No. 3 Uniontown and Belle Vernon at the top of Section 3, the Knights have a stranglehold on one of the top four seeds in the WPIAL playoffs.

But even with everything they have accomplished thus far, the Knights know that they have to continue to work down the stretch in order to accomplish their ultimate goal of bringing the first WPIAL championship back to Knoch.

“We just gotta keep practicing,” Scheidt said. “We gotta keep working hard every single day, and I think things will all line up and come together.”

The Knights will learn their seeding for the WPIAL playoffs Tuesday at the WPIAL pairings meeting in Green Tree. The tournament is set to begin next Friday.

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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