Knoch displays versatility, rolls past South Park in 1st round

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | 10:39 PM

Knoch has displayed an ability and willingness to get out and run the floor a little more than it has in the past, and that continued in a big way in the playoffs Wednesday night.

That transition game coupled with a defensive tenacity that has been the hallmark of Ron McNabb’s program the last eight years worked hand-in-hand to overwhelm South Park, 62-33, in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball playoffs at Fox Chapel.

Led by Scott Fraser’s 27 points and 15 rebounds, the No. 6-seeded Knights cruised to a victory over the No. 11 Eagles.

Knoch took control with a 15-0 run over the first and second quarters with tough defense, good rebounding and stretching the floor to get easy baskets.

“As much as I liked what we did on offense, I was really thrilled with our defensive effort tonight,” McNabb said. “We really hunkered down a guarded well. They have some good players. (Santino) Tutich is a very good player, and I thought Scott did a good job on him.

“We’re trying to go up-tempo more this year, and when Jake (Scheidt) has the ball in his hands more often than not good things happen, especially when Julian (Sanks), Scotty, Brady (McKee) and (Jared Schrecengost) are running the floor. We scored 62 points, and I don’t remember us taking too many bad shots. That’s hard to do, but we made very good decisions with the ball tonight. I liked the way our kids ran, and I really liked how they hit the offensive boards.”

The Knights advanced to play No. 3 Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals Saturday at a time and site to be announced. Quaker Valley defeated Knoch, 68-53, in a neutral-site game at Montour in the regular season.

Knoch (18-5) led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter and put the clamps down in the second, holding South Park (10-13) without a field goal for the first five minutes of the frame. The Knights controlled the boards on both ends. They secured 11 offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone while holding the Eagles to mostly one-and-done possessions on the defensive end.

“Our defense is always going to be there, and our offense was rolling tonight,” Fraser said.

Forcing tough shots allowed Knoch to get its transition game in full gear, and Fraser capitalized. The junior scored 10 of his 27 points in the second, and the Knights went into halftime with a 32-15 lead.

“Scott’s been doing that all year,” McNabb said. “Last year as a sophomore when we were in (Class) 5A with Mars and Moon, we always put him on their best player and Scott never said a word. He just goes out there and works his tail off. I’m really happy for him because he’s put in a lot of time and hard work.”

Knoch held South Park to single-digit point totals in three of the four quarters. It stretched the margin further in the third, and Jared Schrecengost punctuated the frame with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 49-27.

Along with Fraser’s big scoring night, the Knights had a balanced attack with Schrecengost scoring nine points, McKee eight and freshman Ryan Lang eight off the bench. Hunter Lindsey led South Park with 11 points.

“I think that’s what’s unique about Knoch is they have a lot of options,” South Park coach Jason Dolak said. “In our section, you can pick out a certain player and when we’re in man sometimes we’ll face-guard the other team’s best player or key on him, but with Knoch you can’t do that. When we were in our zone, we were trying to shade toward some guys, but we also had to protect the rim. Any one of those guys can shoot or get to the rim. They are a balanced team that I think can make a deep run.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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