Knoch girls avenge earlier loss to Highlands as Shaw scores 22

Monday, January 23, 2023 | 10:06 PM

When the Highlands and Knoch girls basketball teams met at Highlands on Dec. 19, the Golden Rams prevailed by 10.

Knights senior guard Nina Shaw was held under 10 points that night.

But Shaw was on point in the rematch Monday. She scored 22 points, including 10 in a difference-making third quarter, as Knoch avenged the earlier defeat with a 49-38 victory.

“That first game (against Highlands) was early in the season, and we knew that we weren’t to our full potential yet,” said Shaw, who was 6 for 6 from the free-throw line, including 4 for 4 in the fourth as Highlands tried to rally from a 12-point deficit.

“By this game, we had everything together, and we had everything planned out. We were ready.”

Shaw, a Cal (Pa.) commit, said the Knights, despite a close loss to Class 6A and playoff contender Pine-Richland on Friday, carried a lot of momentum into Monday’s game.

With the win, Knoch improved to 10-6 overall and 5-2 in the section. The Knights return to action Thursday at Freeport.

Knights head coach Chris Andreassi said payback was not a factor in how his team approached Monday’s game.

“Number one, it’s Highlands,” he said. “These girls, they all know each other. This is a big game if it is a summer-league game. Or if we went to a playground court to play, it would be huge. The girls knew what they had to do to get an important win. They knew they had to play better than they did against Highlands the first time, especially defensively.

“I think the first time, I over-prepared them, and they were thinking too much. This game, things were more simplified, and they just did the things they know how to do.”

Highlands fell to 9-6 overall, 5-3 in the section. The Golden Rams visit St. Joseph for a nonsection game Tuesday before taking on Upper St. Clair on Saturday at the Joey Fabus Memorial Classic at Bethel Park.

“The big thing is that we kept Nina under control at our place,” Highlands coach Shawn Bennis said. “They do play a lot better at home, and I think Nina felt really comfortable. She had a heck of a game. They did a better job defensively this game, and we did a better job defensively last game.”

Highlands led North Catholic by five at halftime last Thursday before being outscored by 10 in the third en route to a 49-35 loss.

It happened again Monday as the Golden Rams trailed 22-21 at halftime and hoped to make their move in the third. But the Knights, led by the 10 points from Shaw, five from Naturelle Ewing and four more from Megan Vasas, outscored Highlands, 19-10, in the quarter to open a 41-31 lead.

“We definitely locked up on defense and took care of the ball,” said Shaw as the Knights committed just one turnover in the quarter and only seven for the game. “We’ve been stressing taking care of the ball so much, especially in practices. We just had to play smart, and it helped us. We knew if we locked it up on defense, the offense would come.”

Vasas, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds, put in a layup to extend Knoch’s lead to 12 with 6:47 left to play.

Highlands responded with a 7-0 run, keyed by 3-pointers from Kate Myers and Jocelyn Bielak, to close the deficit to 43-38 with 1:39 on the clock.

Myers finished with a team-best 12 points on a quartet of 3-pointers.

But the Golden Rams didn’t score again, and Knoch went 6 of 8 from the free-throw line over the final minute to seal the victory.

“They didn’t change anything (in the second half),” Bennis said. “We’re predicated on getting into the paint and dribbling north and south. With only five team fouls (until late in the fourth), we weren’t getting into the paint like we were in the first half as we were making them help and skipping through our threes. We went a little east-west instead of north-south in that third quarter. It is something we have to fix as it has happened the last two games.”

Ewing finished with eight points for Knoch.

Monday’s game was the sixth and final meeting between stepsisters Shaw and Highlands junior Kalleigh Nerone.

Nerone reached double figures with 10 points, but she was held off the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

“Knoch is very good and really well-coached, and they are really tough to play at their place,” Bennis said. “The section overall, like I said before, is a challenge. They have to go to North (Catholic), and we have some important games like Freeport and Greensburg Salem at home. We’ll see how everything plays out.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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