Knoch girls building on solid foundation

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | 4:42 PM


Most teams would love to be in the position the Knoch girls basketball team is in for the upcoming season.

Four of five starters returning, a group of players off the bench that can contribute and a team bond that has consistently grown over the past year and a half.

“If we didn’t have that, we would be just where we were last year,” senior guard Abby Schearer said. “We needed that base to build off of.”

Aside from senior Skye Burkett, who decided not to play basketball this season, Knoch coach Chris Andreassi has his whole starting lineup returning.

Just a year ago, Schearer, Nevaeh Ewing, Lauren Cihonski and Madilyn Boyer were thrust into the starting lineup after Andreassi had to replace all five starters from the previous year.

Over the course of last season, the Knights came together and battled to an overall record of 9-14, finished at .500 in Section 1-4A play and earned their second straight WPIAL playoff appearance.

Now, Knoch is looking to capitalize on what it started a year ago, and it starts with the players that are returning to the starting lineup.

“We’re just building off of last year,” Ewing said. “We’re just trying to get one step ahead and trying to perfect different aspects of our game.”

“Compared to where we were last year, we’re so much further ahead,” Schearer said. “We have picked up right where we left off.”

With a bounty of shooters and defenders, Knoch will look to use intense defensive play to create turnovers that can transition into easy layups and open shots on the offensive end of the court.

Last year, the Lady Knights averaged 40.9 points per game and allowed 42.3, but they are looking to take that next step this season.

“We have good shooters and we need to play hard defensively, and I think that’s what we need to ride,” Andreassi said. “We just need to take care of the basketball, execute and get our shooters shots because they are good.”

Although the longtime coach has a majority of his starting lineup returning, he’ll still look to rely on a few other players to fill big roles this season as well. Amanda Huckestein, Sammy Archer and Jaylee Lassinger are just a few who will have expanded roles. Andreassi will also look for a few other players to contribute as well.

“We have a host of young people who need to step up,” Andreassi said. “I don’t know who it is yet, but some players need to step up.”

The Lady Knights didn’t lose much coming into this season, and Andreassi is hoping that with an extra year of experience under their belts, his players will be able to take that next step.

“Every season is a new season, but certainly last year should pay benefits going into this season, and it shows in the practices,” Andreassi said. “We’re further ahead than we were at this point last season, but we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Knoch starts its season at home at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 against Kiski Area.

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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