Knoch girls eager to continue strong section start

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 5:13 PM


It’s been nearly 50 years since a Knoch girls basketball team has won a section championship.

This year’s group hopes to change that.

So far, so good with a 3-0 start, both overall and in Section 1-4A play. But the Knights aren’t resting on their laurels.

“We’re trying to get that ‘2021’ up there,” sophomore guard Nina Shaw said as she pointed to the girls basketball banner that displays four section crowns from 1968 to 1972.

“We’re all practicing that much harder and taking nothing for granted as we prepare for each team.”

Shaw said despite a slower-than-hoped restart in practice after the three-week shutdown, the tempo picked up and things got back to normal as the Jan. 14 opener against Highlands approached.

“Everybody is getting better every day,” said Shaw, who faced her half-sister, Golden Rams freshman guard Kalleigh Nerrone, in that first game. Shaw scored 15 points to help Knoch score a 72-29 win.

Knoch entered this week No. 3 in the Triblive HSSN Class 4A rankings and cruised past Freeport, 54-27, on Monday behind 12 points from sophomore Megan Vasas and 11 from Shaw.

Depth has been a point of emphasis for the Knights so far, and it was on display Monday. Eight players scored points in the first half against the Yellowjackets.

“There’s not just one or two players on our team who can score,” said senior Nevaeh Ewing, who was limited to four points against Freeport after a 25-point night against Deer Lakes in a 54-32 victory last week.

“It’s all of us working together. We know that whoever is on the court, and whatever combination is out there, they can get the job done. We take pride in knowing that if you try to stop one or two of us, there are others who can be effective. That’s what it is going to take if we want to meet all of our goals.”

Ewing said the returning players used the end of last season as motivation as this year dawned. The Knights took No. 3 Central Valley to the limit in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs before falling 52-47.

Knoch was edged out of a berth in the PIAA tournament under the follow-the-leader format.

“It was tough, but last year put us in a spot where we knew we could come back and go after a section title and go further in the playoffs,” Ewing said. “It gave us a lot of playoff experience, and it has pushed us to see how far we can go.”

The Knights defend their undefeated record Thursday at Deer Lakes.

“We’ve had a couple of good wins over the past week or so, and they know Deer Lakes well,” Knoch coach Chris Andreassi said. “They know how well-coached Deer Lakes is and how well-coached teams like Freeport and Burrell are. No team in the section is going to roll over. We expect a very tough battle at Deer Lakes on Thursday. We appreciate the start we had, but there is a long way to go.”

The Knights step away from section action Friday and host Hampton before returning to section play Monday at home against Burrell. Starting with a section game at Derry on Jan. 28, Knoch is slated to play 10 games in 22 days.

“Under normal circumstances, we should have 15 games in,” Andreassi said. “We’ve only played three, and some teams don’t even have that many. We need to get ready for the playoffs and continue to develop that rotation and the girls off the bench. The girls have developed good work habits and a good attitude. When making a playoff run, there’s always that unsung hero who might end up playing a big role. It’s critical that we are able to continue to put that together.”

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

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