Knoch girls basketball team motivated by unfinished business

By:
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | 5:06 PM


Madilyn Boyer wants to help put a “2022” on a girls basketball section-championship banner in the gym at Knoch High School.

The senior guard was part of a frustrating conclusion to an undefeated section slate. The team went 7-0 in section play, but because the section standings reached an uneven conclusion amidst covid issues and concerns, the WPIAL didn’t award a section title to Knoch.

“We’re all very excited for this season, hoping that covid doesn’t ruin this year and we can get that section title,” said Boyer, a two-time Valley News Dispatch first-team All-Star who averaged 11.2 points and 7.7 rebounds last year.

“It hurt last year not being able to get that section title. But that really motivated us, and it allows us to put forth a lot more effort this year to finish what we started last year.”

Knoch lost just one starter from last year’s team. Graduate Nevaeh Ewing, a VND first-team All-Star, led the Knights in scoring at 13.3 points a game. She now plays at Grove City College.

Three starters return — junior guards Nina Shaw and Hattie McGraw join Boyer — to a team that finished 10-2 overall and defeated Hopewell and Blackhawk in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs before falling to Beaver in the semifinals.

Shaw, at the point, averaged 11.3 points last year and dished out a team-best 4.6 assists per game.

Defensively, her 3.1 steals led the team, and she was selected to the VND All-Star second team.

“The expectations the girls have for themselves is pretty high,” coach Chris Andreassi said. “Some of the younger girls are stepping into new roles, and that probably was one of the most important things coming into the season.”

Sophomore Cece Kosecki, who came off the bench in 11 of the 12 games last year in her varsity debut, is expected to increase her role.

“In our playoff game against Blackhawk, Nina went down with an injury in the fourth quarter, and CeCe came in and played great until Nina was able to come back in,” Andreassi said. “We’re looking for a lot from her this season.”

Andreassi said sophomore guard Naturelle Ewing and freshman guard/forward Karlee Buterbaugh are expected to make impacts this year.

He also pointed to bigger roles for the likes of senior guard Mackenzie McGraw, senior forward Lily Hawk, junior forward Jess Burgard and junior guard Paige Rodgers.

Megan Vasas, a starter last year as a sophomore, is lost for the season after suffering an ACL injury during soccer in September.

“We’re still working through the process of how deep the rotation can be,” Andreassi said.

Andreassi said he hopes his team can hold off the charge from the likes of Freeport, Deer Lakes, Burrell, Highlands and Valley in Section 1-4A.

“I think the section overall is going to be much stronger than it was last year,” Andreassi said. “Burrell has those two seniors (Allison Fisher and Hope Clark) who it seems have been there forever. Freeport is always strong, and Highlands will be improved even more. The section is going to be really competitive. We want that section title, but it certainly won’t be easy.”

Knoch was able to test its mettle Tuesday with a scrimmage at Plum. The Knights will host Beaver in a scrimmage Monday.

“With these scrimmages, I want to see our fundamentals, playing sound defense, being able to run our break and executing our base offenses,” Andreassi said. “We still have a long ways to go. We look at the entire season as a process, and this is just the early stages of that process. We just want to make sure we’re playing hard and doing the basics correctly.”

Knoch kicks off its season Dec. 10-11 at the Armstrong tournament.

The Knights will take on Butler in the semifinals, while Armstrong faces District 9’s Punxsutawney. The championship and consolation games will be on night two.

Knoch then will visit defending Section 2-5A champion Hampton the following Monday.

“We start out with three very tough games,” Andreassi said. “There will be no practice between the tournament and Hampton. We’re going to be tested right away.”

Knoch girls at a glance

Coach: Chris Andreassi

Last year’s record: 10-2 (7-0 Section 1-4A)

Returning starters: Madilyn Boyer (Sr., G), Hattie McGraw (Jr., G), Nina Shaw (Jr., G)

Top newcomer: Karlee Buterbaugh (Fr., G)

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

Tags:

More High School Basketball

New coach brings passion for basketball to struggling Jeannette girls program
Nolan Larry takes reins of Elizabeth Forward boys basketball
High-end Pittsburgh summer basketball league features fierce competition, fun trash talk
Latrobe basketball standout Emma Blair verbally commits to S.C. Upstate
Penn Hills junior shows 1-on-1 skills at summer showcase